Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Will We Ever Learn?

by Diane Fanning

Will we ever learn that the phrase "he paid his debt to society" is an irrelevant concept when applied to pedophiles?

Last week, Gilbert Gauthe made the case for permanent confinement of these types of sex offenders. Gauthe was the priest in Louisiana who heralded the beginning of the Catholic sex scandal as the first in the country to face multiple charges of child molestation. In 1985, he admitted that, over a five-year-period, he raped and sodomized thirty-seven altar boys, ages six to thirteen. He abused them on the altar, in the confessional and everywhere else. Thirty-seven!

He was convicted on eleven counts of crimes against nature with children and eleven counts of pornography involving a child. His punishment for scarring these innocent children for life? He served nine years of his 20-year sentence before his release in 1995.

Debt paid? Felon rehabilitated? Not hardly. In 1997, he was no longer a priest but he certainly was still a pedophile. He was arrested for fondling the genitals of a 3-year-old boy in Polk County, Texas. What did he get for that offense? He was allowed to plead guilty to the lesser charge of "injury to a child" when Louisiana failed to forward his criminal records to the court. Gauthe’s sentence: seven years probation. It boggles the mind.

In 1998, a woman stepped forward with the accusation that Gauthe raped her seventeen years earlier when she was just twelve years old. Gauthe was arrested and returned to Louisiana where he spent two years in the Lafayette jail before the charges were dropped and he was released. It seems that the prosecutor, in making the 1985 plea bargain, wrote a very broad immunity agreement that shielded Gauthe from any additional charges for child molestation offenses committed before that date in the Vermillion Paris. He walked out the front doors of the jail to face the jeers of a crowd gathered to protest his regained freedom.

Gauthe still had four years of probation to serve in Texas. He returned to the state and, worked in
Conroe, just north of Houston, driving the elderly to appointments in a commuter van. After keeping this job with The Friendship Center for about two years, his employers learned about his past from reporters who had tracked down the pedophile and asked the agency about their driver. He was fired.

Soon after that, he moved south of Houston to La Marque. He found a job working for a limousine company. Nobody's sure how long he was living there on the property of his employer since he did not report his whereabouts to the probation office as required. But intrepid reporters at KTRK-TV found and attempted to interview him. Their efforts came to the attention of the police who noticed that the 62-year-old Gauthe was in violation of the law that requires him to reaffirm his personal data, including his address and employment every ninety days for the rest of his life. When confronted, Gauthe complied with the reporting rules and went on the list of sex offenders in the area. With that accomplished, he moved, without giving authorities the required seven day notification.

Detective Geoff Price--our new hero--tracked him down to Galveston Island State Park. He was living in his recreational vehicle in this target-rich area for a pedophile. Gauthe lied to the officer about his continued employment. Last Wednesday, Price hauled Gauthe off to jail where he belongs.

If he is convicted of failing to register as a sexual offender, Gauthe could receive up to a 20-year sentence and a fine of $10,000.

Who cares about the fine? Keep the money, honey--just lock up this destructive jerk for the rest of his natural life.


Rae said...

Or, perhaps, the State of Louisiana should have to pay the $10,000 for failing to forward those records.

Kathryn Casey said...

This SOB gets out, Diane, please let me know. I want to be at the jail to help with the protest. You're absolutely right: "It boggles the mind" indeed!

Diane Fanning said...

I'll be keeping an eye on this case. It seems this former priest has good friends in high places in Louisiana who have protected him to the detriment of a little three-year-old boy and who knows who else.

Jan said...

I can only hope that the "friends" who are protecting this man don't let him babysit their kids. Outrage doesn't even begin to describe how I feel about this.

Diane Fanning said...

Cases like this make it easy to understand why some victims are reluctant to come forward.

Helen said...

A scary story Diane. I would say amazing, but, unfortunately, it's not. He almost needs a visible tatoo identifying him.

Leah said...

This is just tragic. It is bad enought that our justice system has failed his victims but having people protect him just adds insult to injury.

How many more children have to suffer at the hands of pedos before our laws are changed to reflect that we understand that nothing can save or rehabilitate these offenders?

I know that laws in some states prevent adequate sentences for first time pedos but I sometimes wonder if our Judges really understand the seriousness of sexual abuse.

Diane Fanning said...

I've seen shows about Canadian cases involving violent predators that allow the courts to add the stipulation that the perpetrator cannot be released because he is a danger to society. It seems like pedophiles should be in that category here.
There is a difference between a sex offender and a pedophile. A sex offender can be helped in some cases. I do not believe a pedophile can.

Stacy Dittrich said...

Ugh! Great post, Diane! I agree, lock 'em up forever-rehabilitation doesn't exist when it comes to these animals..

Jan said...

This is one reason why people resort to vigilante justice. Our system is worse than inadequate when it comes to dealing with pedophiles.

Leah said...

Ditto what Jan said. I wouldn't blame any parent for going after a pedo that molested their child.

Pattie said...

Supposedly we are a Christian society,at least one founded by Christians.
accordingly,we revere Jesus,Mother Teresa and St. Francis of Assisi.
But I think the truth is otherwise.When we feel collectively threatened,or are collectively injured,we want the Earp brothers and Doc Holliday on the job and we want the bad guys smoked,dried,fried and plowed under with a bulldozer.

Diane Fanning said...

Patti, I am more often criticized for turning the other cheek instead of responding in kind when someone harms me directly. But when someone is preying on little kids, it makes me nuts. I don't want vigilante justice but I also don't want pedophiles getting out of prison and scarring even more children.
I would find it far easier to forgive someone who sexually assaulted me than a person who did the same thing to any child I know.

Pattie said...

Sometimes I think we do want vigilante justice.
Usually one would not want to admit it.It goes against what most of us have come to believe in.
We know incarceration does not work.
My good friend runs the sexual offender program in my state,my husband worked in DOC for 30 years.I often reviewed the case files,parole petitions etc.
The public is usually not made aware of the true nature ofthe crimes.
I want them hung high....slowly and painfully.Pure and simple.

Anonymous said...

Okay, Pattie. What would you suggest when it comes to a committed pedophile, like this piece of human debris?

We are not suggesting frying the man, although that is a tempting thought. We're saying he doesn't deserve to walk among us, to spend time in the places we frequent with our families, to be free to violate more children. Are you honestly telling us that you have a problem with keeping this monster locked up?

How do you justify letting him walk free? I'm sincerely curious. Jesus didn't condone allowing children to be violated. Not in any passage of the Bible I've read. Do you want to invite this guy to move into your neighborhood, where he'll have access to your children? If not, how can you in good conscience inflict that horrible fate on other families?

This guy's had lots of chances to rehabilitate. He hasn't taken any of them. Why are you wasting time feeling sorry for him? Spend that sympathy on his victims, the little kids who had their childhoods stolen from them.

Jan said...

Anonymous, I believe Pattie said to hang them high..slowly and painfully. You need to go back and read with your glasses on.

Anonymous said...

Careful vigilantes. Even with suspected pedophiles. Remember this story?

Pattie said...

Anon,not only did I say I wanted them painfully and slowly hung but smoked,dried,fried and plowed under with a bull dozer.
What part didn't you understand?

Rae said...

Anon, what color is the sky in your world? Nowhere do I see Pattie attempting to justify the release of pedophiles into society. She's talking apples and you are talking bananas.

I support vigilante justice-100%-and kindly don't show a news article that describes an isolated event to prove whatever point you are attempting to make. The man thought the victim had molested his daughter, and, unless YOU have been in that position, you can't make the call about how people should react.

Sherry said...

If we can't kill'em then they should never be free again ever. The 3 strike's and you're in jail for life shouldn't apply to pedophiles. They should get life with the first conviction, no second chances...period!

Diane Fanning said...

I think some of the confusion over Patti's meaning arose from her first email. It could have been interpreted to mean that we can't claim to be Christian and want severe punishment for pedophiles. It could have been read as a chastisement of those of use who are that way.
Patti's subsequent posts have made her position clearer. I think everyone probably gets it now.

Jan said...

I think Pattie's first post pointed out the dichotomy of being a Christian, but still having the urge to "string'em up" from the highest tree. When it comes to our kids, the latter part of us wants to dominate.

Pattie said...

This reminds me of a story....a fly was buzzing around the barnyard,he saw a great pile of manure and flew in to feast.He ate and ate and ate. When done, he tried to fly away but was too full of it to make it.Instead,he climbed up the handle of the pitchfork that was stuck in the pile.After a while he felt he could fly.He spread his wings and lifted off only to fall smack dab into the manure.
The moral of the story is..don't fly off the handle when you're full of poo-poo.

Burk said...

It's clear that pedophiles like this guy have a severe disorder. They have a sexual disorder that should keep them off the streets in the same way that we would keep someone who is unable to contain their drive to kill people off the streets. In most cases, Pedophilia isn't something we can "fix" but is it really necessary to take that vigilante attitude with the endless "what I'd like to do to that monster" stuff? Calling the guy an SOB and putting so much glee into the endless descriptions of how you would like to painfully hang or fry or torture him or whatever only serves to make you seem misguided about what a sexual disorder is. And unfortunately the vigilante "KILL 'EM!!!" attitude is probably what keeps so many people who might suffer from this horrible disorder from coming forward.
Supporting vigilante justice isn't civilized. Asking what someone would do if it was THEIR loved one who was raped or murdered, isn't a valid argument in favor of vigilante justice, either, because OF COURSE anyone would want to pulverize the perpetrator of a horrible crime against themselves or a loved one. But in our grief, can we be expected to be rational in our choices about who to hang or fry or torture or plow under with a bulldozer? What if you, or your loved one, happens to look kind of like the person I think might have committed a horrible crime against my child? Would my extreme emotional conviction justify any actions I might choose to take against you?
Pedophiles who can't be helped should not be a part of our society, because they are incompatible with it. They have a severe mental sickness that makes makes involvement in our society impossible in the same way that a person who has the Ebola virus shouldn't be working at the airport. Should we hate and want to torture or hang the person with Ebola? Do we think they chose to have that disease? Expressing all these gory details about how you'd like to torture these people doesn't say much for your ability to understand what justice really is.

Rae said...

The truth is that most of us who speak of vigilante justice fit into one of those two categories. We don't really want vigilante justice. We want legal justice, and we want changes in our court in favor of stiffer penalties for pedophiles-first time offenders or otherwise. We want pedophiles to stop getting a slap on the hand. Our children are our most precious resource, and we believe, that when you violate a child, in any way, all bets should be off.

You say: "OF COURSE anyone would want to pulverize the perpetrator of a horrible crime against themselves or a loved one." - but, yet, you are chastising us for feeling exactly that way. Well, what is it? It's not okay for us to feel that way, or is just isn't okay for us to say it out loud?

Rae said...

Sorry, meant to say that a) most of us who feel strongly in favor of vigilante justice are either victims of a pedophile, or parents of a victim, and b) we don't really favor vigilante justice OVER the legal justice that isn't happening.

Jan said...

Burk, you missed the point. IF the courts would effectively deal with pedophiles, then vigilante justice wouldn't be an issue. The whole point of this thread was that the courts AREN'T dealing with this.

And I take issue with you comparing pedophilia with a physical illness. People with Ebola can't choose to not run a fever or have a sore throat or experience severe abdominal pain. Pedophiles make a CHOICE to touch kids. Yes, that urge is caused by a mental illness, but they still have a choice to control those urges.

The fact that they hide their abusive actions shows that they know it is wrong and scheme to figure out a way to satisfy their sexual needs so as to not get caught.

Pattie said...

Amen, Rae and Jan.

Kathryn Casey said...

Sorry, Burk, but you didn't change my opinion. We're not talking about a guy who "might" be guilty. This guy is guilty. He's repeatedly reoffended with total disregard for the suffering he's causing. He has shown no empathy for the victims. He's acted as if he's above the law, refusing to register his address as a sex offender.

Gauthe is a SOB. No question.

Patty Beeken said...

You all may be interested in reading this article if you haven't already.

Texas urges U.S. Supreme Court to allow death penalty for child rapists

Diane Fanning said...

Thanks for posting that, Patty. Although I understand the severity of brutal child rape and the liklihood of repeated offenses, I still share the concerns of the victim advocates who are worried that the death penalty for child rape will make it more likely that the offender will kill the victim.

Anonymous said...


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emilynghiem said...

In addition to confining dangerous offenders to prevent further victims, the criminal illness behind pedophilia and other predatory additions should be treated as seriously as cancer and other deadly diseases. Without early detection and intervention, so many repeat offenses occur without reason that could have been prevented. I believe that restitution is overdue to victims of repeat offenders, that research should be pursued into early detection and detention of individuals with dangerous criminal illnesses, and that laws should be enforced requiring such conditions to be reported before they lead to irreversible damage if not fatal assaults on innocent victims.