This is part 3 of a special report on accusations of abuse in the Diocese of Lafayette. To see the list of accused priests compiled by KATC Investigates CLICK HERE.
The Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAP) supports KATC’s investigation that uncovered a list of accused priests in the Diocese of Lafayette.
“Naming names can help a victim by providing a public acknowledgement of a vile abuser,” said SNAP president Tim Lennon. “It can provide an opportunity for a victim to tell a family member, a close friend, a counselor. It can help a victim understand that they are not alone, that it is not their fault. Publishing the names helps to rid our culture of the harmful ideology of placing blame, guilt, and shame on a victim. So releasing the names can serve as a beneficial service to your community, and especially victims.”
Transparency and openness
While the diocese is still working to release its list, our investigation also uncovered questions about recent transparency and openness in the diocese.
Since his installation in 2016, Bishop J. Douglas Deshotel has had to address accusations of sexual abuse by priests four times.
In 2016, when child pornography charges first surfaced against Felix David Broussard, Deshotel held a news conference and took questions.
“As soon as we knew something had happened, we wanted the word to get out to the priests in our diocese and to you guys in the media,” Deshotel said.
Same in June 2018, announcing accusations against Fr. Michael Guidry. Bishop Deshotel held a news conference and took questions from the media.
But in October 2018 at a news conference announcing accusations against Msgr. Robie Robichaux, Deshotel refused to take questions. Deshotel announced Robichaux’s accuser came forward to the diocese in 1994 and 2004, yet Robichaux was allowed to remain in ministry.
The media was instead asked to submit our questions via e-mail and we did. We want to know: Was Bishop Jarrell’s handling of the case was appropriate? Does he have a statement?
14 weeks after those questions were submitted, still no answers from the diocese.
In November, accusations against Rev. Jody Simoneaux were announced in an e-mailed statement; there was no news conference.
“No, of course, it’s not transparency,” said Lennon. “
The Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People calls on the church to adopt a communications policy that “reflects a commitment to transparency and openness.”
It’s something Bishop Deshotel acknowledged in 2016, announcing charges against Fr. David Broussard.
“We do have guidelines, but it’s just common sense that crisis mode are things like transparency, informing the public, having a press conference, taking immediate actions when something is known,” said Deshotel. “All of those are lessons, that we’ve learned over the years, that this is how it’s addressed.”
How to get help
KATC recognizes that hearing these stories will trigger memories and anguish for victims.
If you’ve been the victim of a sexual assault and you need help, there is help available.
We’ve put together a list of locations to find help, and numbers to call for help. You can find it here.
If you believe that a crime has been committed, please call your local law enforcement, or dial 911.
Contact the investigative team:
Jim Hummel – Jhummel@katctv.com
Wynce Nolley – Wnolley@katctv.com
Angie Simoneaux – Asimoneaux@katctv.com
Letitia Walker – Lwalker@katctv.com