Victim of pedophile priest talks

April 22, 2008 9:50:07 PM PDT
It's been years since a Louisiana priest molested dozens of children in that state and later assaulted a Texas child in Polk County. He was living unregistered in our area. That concerned some of his past victims.

It's been 21 years since Gilbert Gauthe was the parish priest at Henry, Louisiana's St John Church outside Lafayette. The young priest had a flair for preaching and what parishioners thought then was a great connection with young people at the church.

"He was the new priest, everybody loved him," said Janessa Dubois who was Gauthe's victim.

What parishioners wouldn't find out until years later was that Gauthe wasn't always serving God, but his own perverse desire.

"He had the gun, got me out, put me on the hood and raped me," Dubois said. "He spit on me and said I got what I deserved."

Dubois was one of Gilbert Gauthe's victims. She and her brother were two of at least 39 children the priest and pedophile abused.

"Crying if I see a priest walking by, it makes me feel like you're 12," Dubois said. "The fear comes back so fast."

Most of the abuse happened in the church rectory. Back then there were bars on the windows, maybe to keep burglars out, some victims suggest it was to keep them in. Gauthe wouldn't allow adults inside, but invited kids, mostly boys, to spend the night, play video games and watch adult movies. Eventually it led to sex with him and each other while Gauthe took photos.

"There's nothing to be afraid of," Gauthe told us.

We found Gauthe living, but not registered as a sex offender, in La Marque within blocks of a church, a day care center and a school. That despite the fact that he assaulted a Texas child within months of his release from a Louisiana prison.

He was working a charter bus driver for cruise ships and school trips.

Ted Oberg: "How much does your employer know about your past?"
Gil Gauthe: "I am not sure."

Gauthe admits he still has sexual desires for kids, but keeps himself from acting on them and didn't think he needed to register as a sex offender to alert his neighbors what he'd done. He told us he has trouble having to start over again.

"Poor pitiful me, I am just an old man who wants to be left alone," Dubois said. "Then I think of all the kids who just wanted to be left alone, who didn't want this to happen to them. Who didn't want the memories, who don't want to be scared to open the door and I don't have any sympathy for hit at all."

Once Eyewitness News started tracking Gauthe down, La Marque police officers did too and he's now registered as a sex offender. Something people close to his old church say should've happened long ago.

Gauthe's reappearance near Houston was a surprise to many people in Louisiana, including some of his victims who didn't want to go on camera. There were rumors he was dead, that he'd moved to Thailand, some had heard he was in Texas. No one we spoke with thought Gauthe should be the one to choose whether he was registered or not.

Gauthe was working a charter bus driver in La Marque. He quit that job when he registered as a sex offender. He wasn't breaking the law by not registering. The loophole which allowed him to live unregistered has since closed.

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