SNAP calls on Lafayette bishop to release names of abusers

An advocacy group for victims of sexual abuse by priests is calling on Diocese of Lafayette Bishop Michael Jarrell to reveal the names of the 15 priests the diocese has acknowledged offended against minors from 1950 to 1984.

The Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests on Wednesday also called on 15th Judicial District Attorney Mike Harson to demand the list of 15 abusers, some of whom could still face prosecution for crimes years ago.

Jarrell has said through a diocese spokesman that he has no plans to release the names, arguing it would serve no purpose, and Harson said in an interview this week with KATC-TV that he would not ask for the list of 15 priests or pursue any investigation unless a victim or victims come forward.

“Here, simply put, is the purpose of exposing the names of proven, admitted and credibly accused child molesters — to protect the vulnerable and heal the wounded. Both of these well-educated men know this,” SNAP Director David Clohessy said in a statement released on Wednesday. “... If even one of these 15 credibly accused sex offenders is alive, let’s err on the side of safety. If he is too dangerous to put on the job in a parish, then he’s too dangerous to live among unsuspecting single mothers in an apartment complex, teach piano lessons in his home, be a volunteer tutor, coach basketball, or babysit his nieces. And if even one victim or one of these 15 credibly accused sex offenders is alive, let’s err on the side of compassion.

Disclosing a predator’s name can be very healing to his victims.”

Jarrell acknowledged in a 2004 statement that 15 priests were known to have offended against minors here and said the diocese knows of no abuse occurring since 1984.

The statement — and Jarrell’s decision not to give the names of those priests — has received renewed attention following recently revealed allegations against the Rev. Gilbert Dutel, who was accused in a 1992 statement by an adult who claimed the priest molested him in the 1970s.

Dutel, 69, is the priest at St. Edmond Catholic Church in Lafayette.

The statement was in the file of a once-sealed lawsuit that came to light in a Minnesota Public Radio investigative reporting series last month that looked into the role former Diocese of Lafayette Bishop Harry Flynn played in the pedophile priest scandals in Louisiana and Minnesota.

Diocese spokesman Monsignor Richard Greene has said Flynn investigated the allegations against Dutel in 1992 and determined they were not credible, though he said the diocese had little information it its files about the investigation.

The diocese has released no specific details about the location of the 15 priests on the list, other than to say some are now dead and none remains in the ministry.

Clohessy also noted in the Wednesday statement that some 30 U.S. bishops have released the names of priests in their diocese known to have sexual abused children, posting the information on the Internet.

“If dozens of his colleagues can post predators’ names on their websites, the least Jarrell can do is to disclose them,” Clohessy said.