Diocese of Alexandria says it has no plans to release parishes where accused clergy worked

Published: Feb. 7, 2019 at 3:27 PM CST
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We are continuing with our coverage of sexual abuse in the Catholic Church involving clergymen within the Diocese of Alexandria. Twenty-seven priests and deacons, both living and dead, are accused of sexual abuse and misconduct. That list was compiled beginning last August.

According to the Diocese of Alexandria, there are five former clergymen still living. And, Thursday morning, with the help of the Rapides Parish Tax Assessor's Office, we were able to track down one of them - Monsignor Frederick Lyons, who still lives in Alexandria.

He's accused of multiple allegations of sexual misconduct and abuse of boys dating back to the 1960s. When those allegations were deemed credible, he was removed from active ministry in 2006. But, according to a press release issued by the diocese in 2013, he was not stripped of his priesthood. Instead, the diocese imposed "a life of prayer and penance" on him.

"When he met with the review board, which he did not have to do, he chose to do it. I was not present, but the report they gave me was that he neither admitted nor denied," said Bishop Ronald Herzog in 2006. "Of course, that is always someone's option to listen to what is presented without addressing it beyond that."

According to information provided in 2013, Lyons served as a priest at St. Francis Xavier Cathedral in Alexandria, St. John the Baptist in Cloutierville, St. Anthony Padua in Bunkie, and Our Lady of Prompt Succor in Alexandria. He was appointed monsignor in 1962 and retired in 1989.

On Thursday, we visited his home to find out if he would comment on the list and were met at the door by him and a caretaker. He chose not to comment.

News Channel 5 also requested information on the assignments of the priests and deacons on the list, including specific schools and churches where they may have been placed.

The Diocese of Alexandria gave us this statement:

"The members of the Personnel Review Board (PRB) discussed this aspect of their investigation thoroughly.

Along with not wanting to re-victimize any victims, the PRB understood that communities were also affected in the past, where the rumor of a “bad priest” or rumors of untold behaviors or rumors of a child or teen affected by the behavior of a cleric affected the spirit of the community negatively. Communities (parishes, missions) are not to be re-traumatized about a sad portion of their history (with allegations or convictions of abusive priest(s) ), placing an unwanted spotlight on the community of faith today in 2019.

The unanimous decision of the PRB and Bishop Talley is not to publish specific communities where the sexual abuse of a minor may have taken place."

We spoke with a local psychologist about the list being released.

"One thing that might happen as a result of the publication of the list is that this can be a trigger for some people and bring back some memories and they might have a resurgence of nightmares and intrusive thoughts," said Kelley S. Pears, Ph.D. "Although that is a tragic thing, what it could be used as is a springboard or an opportunity to seek help. [...] I think in a way this is an external validation that, this happened to me and that can be part of the healing process."

We also want to point out that Wednesday night the Diocese of Shreveport did identity which clergymen on the Alexandria list who at one time or another also served in Shreveport. You can find a list of their names and which parishes the Diocese in Shreveport said they worked at on our website.