Fr. Gilbert Gauthe – Diocese of Alexandria

| Sep 21, 2021 | Catholic Church, Sex

Father Gilbert Gauthe

Diocese of Alexandria

Ordained: 1971

Removed: 1983

Conviction: 1985, 1997

Assignment History

  • 1972-1973: Sacred Heart of Jesus (Broussard, LA)
  • 1973-1976: Our Lady of Perpetual Help (New Iberia, LA)
  • 1974-1981: Director Scouting
  • 1976-1977: St. Mary Magdalen (Abbeville, LA)
  • 1977-1983: St. John’s (Henry, LA)
  • 1977-1983: St. James (Esther, LA)
  • 1983: Removed

Summary of Sexual Abuse Allegations against Father Gilbert Gauthe

In 1983, Fr. Gilbert Gauthe became the nation’s first priest indicted for child molestation. While he was convicted for raping over 30 minors in 1986, Fr. Gauthe has admitted to the rape of over 300 children.

The Diocese of Alexandria publicly listed Fr. Gauthe on its 2019 list of clergy members credibly accused of assaulting minors. According to the list, Fr. Gauthe allegedly abused male minors in the 1970s.

The Permanent Review Board, which evaluates all allegations of clerical sexual abuse involving minors, investigated the allegation and determined it was credible. The Diocese of Alexandria has not released any further information about the scope or nature of the allegations presented to the Permanent Review Board.

Fr. Gilbert Gauthe’s First Known Assault

Ordained January 16, 1971, Fr. Gauthe’s abuse of male minors began at his first assignment at Broussard in 1972. According to Fr. Gauthe, parents confronted him about his inappropriate behavior with their children and ultimately paid for his treatment. The parents did not, however, report Fr. Gauthe to his superiors.

In 1973, Fr. Gauthe moved to New Iberia where he continued his abuse of male minors. According to the then bishop, in 1974, a man stopped the bishop and informed him that a boy claimed he had “sexual homosexual contact with Gauthe.” The bishop confronted Fr. Gauthe, and Fr. Gauthe confirmed the boy was telling the truth.

Despite his admission, Fr. Gauthe was allowed to stay in active ministry. Moreover, the bishop appointed him as chaplain of the diocesan Boy Scouts. Additionally, Fr. Gauthe also worked with the Biddy Basketball team.

1976 Transition and Subsequent Abuse

In 1976, Fr. Gilbert Gauthe was transferred to Abbeville. Shortly thereafter, parents confronted Fr. Gauthe’s superiors and informed them that Fr. Gauthe had licked their children’s faces. According to records, the bishop sent him to a treatment facility while allowing Fr. Gauthe to remain in ministry.

After returning from treatment, the bishop forbade Fr. Gauthe from having boys in the rectory and moved his room to another level to limit his exposure to children. However, Fr. Gauthe still had outings with male minors and even traveled to Puerto Rico with the Biddy Basketball team.

As Fr. Gauthe began receiving more responsibility, sources reveal his continued abuse of children also became more apparent. In 1977, Fr. Gauthe became the pastor of St. John’s in Henry, and although he lived in the rectory alone, he frequently had boys over. According to news reports, he held practice for altar boys every day at 6 a.m. and encouraged parents to let their sons spend the night with him in the rectory.

In April 1980, parishioners of St. John’s Parish sent a letter to the bishop, stating that “Father [Gauthe’s] house became a second home to a bunch of Abbeville boys who are often left unsupervised”. The bishop referred the letter to his assistants, but nothing further was done about the letter.

1983 Abuse and Fr. Gilbert Gauthe’s Removal

In the early 1980s, reports say a man learned Fr. Gilbert Gauthe had been molesting his three sons for years, and he confronted the Diocese of Lafayette about it. When it appeared the diocese was doing nothing, the man consulted a lawyer to press charges.

The bishop subsequently suspended Fr. Gauthe, and he returned to his hometown, Napoleonville. Sources say Fr. Gauthe then spent the next year at House of Affirmation while the diocese negotiated confidential settlements with the families. In June 1984, the Diocese of Lafayette paid over $4 million to nine plaintiffs.

1984 Litigation and Fr. Gilbert Gauthe’s Conviction

Fr. Gilbert Gauthe during the 1984-85 trial.

While the 1984 settlement opened the diocese up to many more civil suits, it also opened up the door to criminal liability for Fr. Gauthe. In October 1984, the district attorney traveled to Abbeville and interviewed 11 of Fr. Gauthe’s victims. The interviews were videotaped and played in front of a grand jury.

On October 18, 1984, the grand jury returned a 34-count indictment which included a count for aggravated rape and 11 counts for child pornography. Throughout the process, Fr. Gauthe admitted to raping approximately 37 children and taking hundreds of photographs of them.

In 1985, Fr. Gauthe ultimately pleaded guilty and was sentenced to 20 years in prison. Sources indicate Fr. Gauthe only served ten years of his sentence when he was released in 1995.

Subsequent Convictions and Abuse

Not even a year after his release, Fr. Gilbert Gauthe was arrested for fondling a three-year-old boy in Texas. He pleaded no contest—accepting the punishment of a guilty plea without admitting guilt—and was sentenced to seven years probation.

In 1997, Fr. Gauthe was arrested and charged for raping a young girl at gunpoint in the late 1970s. Fr. Gauthe was imprisoned for two years before the case was dismissed due to a deal Fr. Gauthe had taken in previous litigation.

Known Whereabouts

In the late 1990s and early 2000s, sources claim he drove the elderly in a commuter van in Conroe, Texas. He then moved to La Marque, Texas, in 2001—where he worked as a school bus driver. According to news reports, he did not register as a sex offender and was subsequently arrested in Galveston, Texas, in 2008.

Fr. Gauthe served two years in jail for failing to register as a sex offender. Sources say that as of 2019, Fr. Gilbert Gauthe was living in San Leon, Texas. Further details about his whereabouts are unknown.

Horowitz Law is a law firm representing victims and survivors of sexual abuse by Catholic priests and other clergy in the Diocese of Alexandria in Louisiana. If you need a lawyer because you were sexually abused by a priest in Louisiana, contact our office today. Although many years have passed, those abused by Catholic clergy in the Diocese of Alexandria may now have legal options, but filing deadlines will apply so do not delay in reaching out to us. Our lawyers have decades of experience representing survivors of clergy sexual abuse in Louisiana and nationwide. We can help.

Contact us at 888-283-9922 or [email protected] to discuss your options today.