I delivered the letter to Bishop Deshotel on September 14, 2016. It is now December, and I have yet to receive Bishop Deshotel's response. I don't expect one.
Since that experience, I have learned that Monsignor Mouton was one of the priests in the Lafayette Diocese who figured in the the sexual abuse scandal involving Father Gilbert Gauthe, who was eventually convicted of sexually abusing children. In 1984, the Lafayette Diocese settled claims by nine child victims for more than $4 million, with the children's attorneys getting about a third.
Father Gauthe's hellish behavior, which included anal intercourse and oral sex with children, first became public in 1983, but it came to light in the course of litigation that Monsignor Richard Mouton had received reports from parents in 1976 that Father Gauthe had kissed two boys.
Monsignor Mouton was the pastor of the Catholic church in Abbeville at the time, and Father Gauthe was the assistant pastor. According to reporter Jason Berry, who wrote a book about the Gauthe tragedy, Monsignor Mouton responded to this news by "ordering [Gauthe] to move to an upstairs bedroom in the rectory."
Seven years later, Gauthe's sexual predations came to light; and parents of some of the victims contacted a lawyer.
Monsignor Mouton, apparently hoping to quiet things down, invited Roy Robichaux, father of three of Gauthe's victims, to come to the rectory for a little chat. Robichaux told Monsignor Mouton that he was notifying other parents whose children might also have been victimized by Gauthe.
According to reporter Berry's account, Monsignor did not approve. "Should anyone get hurt, Mouton admonished, the guilt would rest on Roy [Robichaux] for making it public."
Monsignor Mouton then said something that shocked Mr. Robichaux profoundly: "Think how Gauthe's mother would feel."
Robichaux responded as any good Cajun father would under the circumstances. "How in the fuck do you think the mothers of these kids feel?"
But Mouton continued to downplay what happened to Robichaux's three children. "The boys were young, Mouton said gently. They would bounce back and get over these things."
Later, Mouton telephone Robichaux and offered to hear the three children's confessions. Robichaux reportedly said no. "My sons do not need confession! They did nothing wrong."
So here's a theological question. In the eyes of God,who is the worst sinner--a priest who puts his penis in a child's rectum or a divorced Catholic who seeks the consolation of the sacraments?
I'll ask Monsignor Mouton that question the next time I see him, but I think I already know his answer.
|Father Gilbert Gauthe|
Jason Berry. Lead Us Not Into Temptation: Catholic Priests and the Sexual Abuse of Children. New York; Doubleday, 1992.
Jason Berry. The Tragedy of Gilbert Gauthe (Part 1). Times of Acadiana, May 23, 1985.
Mary Gail Frawley O'Dea. Perversion of Power: Sexual Abuse in the Catholic Church. Nashville: Vanderbilt University Press, 2007.