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This blog is maintained by the Ruth Institute. It provides a place for our Circle of Experts to express themselves. This is where the scholars, experts, students and followers of the Ruth Institute engage in constructive dialogue about the issues surrounding the Sexual Revolution. We discuss public policy, social practices, legal doctrines and much more.
Today, September 19, Judge Alonzo Harris reconsidered the sentence of confessed sex offender, Fr. Michael Guidry of Lafayette, LA.
Dr. Jennifer Roback Morse, Founder and President of the Ruth Institute, was present in the courtroom when the sentence was announced. She stated, “Justice was done today. I am sincerely grateful that Judge Alonzo did not reduce the sentence, as Fr. Guidry requested.”
In April, Guidry pleaded guilty in Opelousas, Louisiana, to sexually assaulting a 15-year-old boy. He was sentenced to seven years in prison, out of the ten-year maximum sentence. Guidry requested, and was granted, a hearing to reconsider his sentence. The hearing took place on September 19 at the St. Landry Parish Courthouse in Opelousas.
Morse is an outspoken critic of clergy sexual abuse and cover up. She is also a passionate advocate for the victims of the sexual revolution, including victims of clergy sexual abuse.
Morse said she applauds today’s ruling and believes the sentence should not have been reconsidered in the first place. “The family and other victims had achieved some degree of closure and relief from the April 30th sentencing of Fr. Guidry. Going back into court undoes the sense of finality, and revictimizes those who have already been through so much,” Morse said.
She explained further: “When I say ‘victims’ -- plural -- I include Oliver Peyton, the immediate victim, who woke up to find Fr. Guidry performing a sex act on him. I also include Oliver’s family and the members of the community who were shocked and disheartened by the revelation that the abuser, a priest in his 70s, had betrayed their trust.
“Lastly, I’m talking about the victims of child sex abuse everywhere who have been watching this case. Every new case, such as Fr. Guidry’s, can be a traumatic and ‘triggering’ event, especially for those who suffer PTSD symptoms. Every slap-on-the-wrist sentence revictimizes the victims. No new facts have emerged. Fr Guidry is still as guilty as he was in April when Judge Harris originally sentenced him. I drove from Lake Charles, LA, where I live, to support Oliver Peyton and his family. I am relieved that justice was done.”
Morse concluded with a promise, “I am not of Acadian heritage. But I am privileged to live among the Cajun people. I have heard it said that ‘The Bayou Teche will run dry before the Cajun people lose their Catholic faith.’ Civil and ecclesial authorities should be aware: we are not leaving the Church. Nor will we avert our eyes from clergy sex abuse. The scandal first broke here in Lafayette in the 1980s with the case of then-Father Gilbert Gauthe. We mean to see this crisis in the Church through to the end. Let it end here.”
The Ruth Institute works to empower victims and survivors of the sexual revolution – including victims of divorce, abuse and the LGBT culture. In April, the Institute held the first-ever Summit for Survivors of the Sexual Revolution in Lake Charles, Louisiana, where the Ruth Institute has its international headquarters.