Ronald Lane Fontenot
Alleged Abuse: Convicted on sex abuse charges in 1985 in Washington state; several lawsuits settled in the Lafayette diocese over molestation allegations.
Where is he now: Deceased
Rev. Ronald Lane Fontenot was accused of sexual abuse in 1984 when a report of sexual molestation led to his suspension and trips to psychological facilities for help, according to diocese records contained in court records. The court records allege he molested at least 13 boys during his years with the diocese, and more than $1,000,000 was paid out in settlements to his accusers.
Those accusers included the parents of a Vermilion Parish boy and the parents of two St. Mary Parish boys. In the court documents, one victim said the abuse happened at Sacred Heart Church in Baldwin when he was 12 or 13 years old.
Fontenot’s service with the Lafayette Diocese included time with John Engbers in Gueydan, and with Gilbert Gauthe in New Iberia. He was accused of molesting boys with Gauthe in the 1970s.
His last post in the Lafayette Diocese was at Our Lady of Fatima in Lafayette, where he was assigned in 1982. He was still there when the accusations came in 1984 that led to his suspension. The Official Catholic Directory lists him as “on special assignment” and “absent on sick leave” between 1983 and 1987.
Court records indicate that the diocese suspended Fontenot but made arrangements for him to stay at the House of Affirmation in Spokane, Washington, which is a church-run counseling and treatment center for clerics suffering from substance abuse and other problems.
He was transferred to a facility in Massachusetts, and another in Bossier City. But in January 1985 he moved back to Spokane. He ended up pleading guilty to charges that he molested five boys that year at a church-run treatment center for teenage drug abusers, the Associated Press reported.
Fontenot was a counselor at the facility. He pleaded guilty to one count of third-degree statutory rape involving a 15-year-old boy, as well as four misdemeanor counts of communicating with a minor for immoral purposes, the AP reported. After the plea, he served a year in prison.
Civil suits filed in the case indicate the boys called him “huggy bear.”
After his release from prison, he was a counselor in New Mexico, where he again was accused in a civil suit of inappropriately touching a male patient at a facility in Albuquerque.
He later moved to Houston, where he lived under the name “Jean-Paul Fontenot” until he died in 2014.
1975-1976: St. Peter the Apostle in Gueydan (supervised by Father John Engbers)
1976-1977: Our Lady of Perpetual Help in New Iberia
1977-1979: Our Lady of Mercy in Opelousas
1979-1980: Sacred Heart in Baldwin
1980: On leave for studies
1982-1984: Diocese of Lafayette (with responsibilities at Our Lady of Fatima)
1984: Report of sexual molestation
1984: Suspended, sent to the House of Affirmation, sent to Jesuit Residence in Spokane, WA
1985: Convicted in Washington