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by Thomas Doyle, O.P., J.C.D.

The "manual" as it is commonly referred to, was the work of three people: Fr. Michael Peterson, M.D., founder and director of St. Luke Institute, Suitland, Maryland, Mr. F. Ray Mouton, J.D., civil attorney from Lafayette, Louisiana and Fr. Thomas Doyle, O.P., J.C.D., secretary-canonist of the Apostolic Delegation, later called the Apostolic Nunciature in Washington D.C.

The formal name of this document is The Problem of Sexual Molestation by Roman Catholic Clergy: Meeting the Problem in a Comprehensive and responsible Manner. It has always been referred to by the media and others as “The Manual”, the “Doyle-Mouton Report” or the “Mouton-Doyle-Peterson report.”

The “Manual” in its original form consisted of about 100 pages of text prepared by Mouton, Peterson and myself. This treated various aspects of the medical, civil law, canon law, insurance and pastoral aspects of the problem. As part of the manual Fr. Peterson included copies of several clinical articles about the nature of pedophilia, its treatment, curability etc. Although the manual was originally intended to be confidential, it very shortly became anything but. It has been widely copied and disseminated around the US and is also in several other countries.

 

The Manual was not commissioned by nor assigned by anyone in any position, official or otherwise. It was an entirely private venture, undertaken by the above three, as a response to what they believed was quickly developing into a very serious problem for the Catholic Church. The case of Fr. Gilbert Gauthe of Lafayette LA had become a public issue by the late fall of 1984. Fr. Gauthe was facing serious criminal charges and the diocese hired Mr. Mouton to act as his defense. A civil suit had already been initiated by one of the families (Glen and Faye Gastal) whose son had been abused by Gauthe. The idea for some sort of instrument about how to deal with cases of priest-pedophilia first came into being in Jan. 1985 at a meeting between myself, F. Ray Mouton and Fr. Mike Peterson.

Mouton was in Washington to meet with Fr. Peterson about the possibility of sending Fr. Gilbert Gauthe to St. Luke Institute for evaluation and possible treatment. Peterson was founder and director of St. Luke Institute, a health care facility for priests and religious. I had put Peterson and Mouton in touch with each other. I had never met Mouton but Peterson was a friend and collaborator. I was, at the time, canonist at the Vatican embassy and charged with monitoring the correspondence on the Gauthe case.

Shortly after the new year (1985) Fr. Peterson informed me that Mr. Mouton planned a visit to Washington to discuss the situation of Fr. Gauthe. The day after Mouton arrived, Fr. Peterson called and stated that it was urgent that Mouton meet and speak with me. We decided to have the meeting at the Dominican House of Studies rather than at the Nunciature.

Mouton indicated that there were several other priests in Lafayette who had been involved in sexual abuse of children and that the Diocese was covering them up and thus hurting his chances of a decent defense for Gauthe. He had hoped to reach a plea bargain for Gauthe which would enable him to be hospitalized or otherwise confined to a secure facility where he would receive treatment for his problem. This discovery of the other priests would make this plan risky if not unworkable in light of the fact that the District Attorney, Nathan Stansbury, would not be able to treat the case lightly. In the course of our conversation, Peterson indicated that he knew from confidential sources that there were many other priests around the country who had sexually abused children.

I informed Archbishop Laghi of the gravity of the situation. Fr. Peterson spoke with Archbishop Laghi a few days later. The archbishop then called Archbishop Hannan of New Orleans and informed him that there would be a meeting in the Washington area at which Bishop Frey, Archbishop Hannan, their lawyers, Fr. Peterson and I would be present. The purpose of the meeting was to attempt to clarify the issues especially those of the other priests. The meeting was held on Feb. 8 in a hotel in Arlington. Present were Hannan, Frey, Alex Larroque, Bob Wright and Thomas Reyer as well as Fr. Peterson and myself.

Subsequent to the meeting, and after conversations with Mouton and Peterson, I suggested to Archbishop Laghi that a bishop be delegated to go to Lafayette to assist in managing the crisis. I selected Bishop A.J. Quinn, auxiliary of Cleveland because of his legal background. Archbishop Laghi agreed with my suggestion and the appropriate communications were had with the Holy See to secure the appointment.

The three of us were of the opinion that now that the Gauthe case had become public and received so much publicity from coast to coast, that the entire issue would no longer be able to be contained by Church leaders. I was also aware of other cases of sexual abuse that had quickly become public throughout the country.

Also, for the first time, a family was starting a civil suit against a diocese (Gastal v. Lafayette) for failure to take proper precautions when warned about Gauthe. When the criminal suit was filed, the district attorney in the area also brought criminal charges. Fr. Gauthe had in fact been reported to the bishop several times since 1972 and before long, it was discovered that he had abused scores of young children. All were young boys with one exception. In the end, he pleaded guilty to 39 counts and was sentenced to twenty years in prison.

We decided on our own, to try and write something to give to the bishops to assist them in dealing with cases that we predicted would start to appear with increasing regularity. We discussed various approaches with different people including several bishops who were receptive to the idea.

We had several conversations with Bishop Quinn. Bishop Quinn suggested that whatever was composed be done in such a format that it be based on a set of questions that would respond to as many different angles and aspects of the issue as could be conceived of. Within a short time we had decided to collect information and put together a manual or book that would be set up in a question and answer format. The full edition would also contain copies of several medical articles about pedophilia. Most of these were taken from medical journals and several were authored by Dr. Fred Berlin of the Johns Hopkins University Hospital Sexual Disorders Clinic.

Along with the manual, we also proposed that the NCCB sponsor a committee (or project) that would supervise detailed research into the various areas of the problem: civil and criminal law, insurance, canon law, medical, pastoral. The research would be made available to the bishops in order to assist in making enlightened decisions about the problem. The third part of the proposal involved a crisis intervention team which would consist of legal, medical and canonical/pastoral resource persons who would be available to any bishop who requested their services in assisting in dealing with specific cases.

A key aspect of the manual and proposal included a method of uniform case management or at least case following. Within a few months after the Gauthe case, i.e., by the middle of 1985, there were several civil court actions involving priests and dioceses. Over the years since then there have been hundreds. There has been no uniform case management or following by any Church agency. Hence there has been no way of determining the development of civil law jurisprudence, of tracking the nature and amount of settlements, of studying legal strategies etc. On the negative side, the lack of case following has given rise to rumor and innuendo about the monies spent, judgments of courts, numbers of perpetrators, dioceses involved etc.

 
© Copyright 2003 Internations' Justice Federation