After new details of alleged sex crimes recently emerged, a Louisiana priest received a resounding standing ovation from his parishioners after addressing the allegations during mass.
Minnesota Public Radio released a report in July that included a never-before-published affidavit, indicating that Father Gilbert Dutel “had been accused of coercing young adult men into having sex.”
“Well, he would just put his arms around me and he was I guess trying to be consoling, kind of gentle and then he just started playing with me and he unzipped my pants,” the victim said, according to the affidavit. “He performed oral sex on me.”
The victim, who remains unidentified, claimed about eight sexual encounters with Dutel took place during the 1970s. Two other priests were also accused in the affidavit, but this was the first time that Dutel’s name had been made public. According to the MPR report, Bishop Harry Flynn told lawyers that Dutel had been “cured,” and that the church couldn’t fire him because there was a shortage of priests.
This past Sunday, Dutel read a statement during Mass at St. Edmond’s Catholic Church, proclaiming his innocence. Church members gave him an enthusiastic standing ovation when he was finished.
“First, let me state emphatically that any alleged incident being reported that took place some 30 plus years ago is false,” he said. “Let me assure you that I have not been a threat to young people in this parish or any other parish in which I have served as a priest or anywhere else. I regret deeply the embarrassment and heart-ache that all of this may have caused.”
In the past 22 years since the allegations were made, Dutel had unlimited access to children as he worked in elementary schools.
Watch Father Dutel speak in the video below. His remarks begin at about 10:35 of the clip: