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BATON ROUGE, La. (ChurchMilitant.com) - A sexual predator may be paroled next month unless enough concerned Catholics put up resistance.
Father Michael Guidry, who pleaded guilty in 2018 to sexually abusing a 16-year-old male, is scheduled for a parole hearing Aug. 17. Church Militant's Lafayette Resistance chapter is standing up for Guidry's victim, Oliver Peyton, a former altar boy at Guidry's parish, St. Peter's Church in Morrow, Louisiana. The Resistance group told Church Militant it is "urging letter writing to the Board of Appeals in Baton Rouge, asking that Guidry's parole request be denied."
Oliver's father, Scott Peyton, shared with Church Militant his reasons for why Guidry should not be paroled:
Parole is a privilege for individuals who pose a minimal risk to public safety, have demonstrated remorse and rehabilitation for the harm that their crime has done to the victim and society as a whole. Fr. Guidry, who remains an ordained Catholic priest for the diocese of Lafayette, Louisiana has consistently blamed our son, our family and considered the molestation of a juvenile a part of his pastoral duties. He is a calculated predator who hides behind the Roman collar and is neither remorseful nor rehabilitated. At this time, Fr. Guidry should remain in prison where he belongs.
The Peytons expressed their distress with Guidry's case because he was jailed for only one year prior to being temporarily released in April 2020 for nine months. His original sentence was 10 years, but a judge granted his request to be out on bond. The judge's reasons were that Guidry supposedly did not pose a threat to the community and that his release was in line with COVID precautions. After about a nine-month period, he was returned to jail.
Additionally, Oliver's mother, Letitia Peyton, expressed concern for how much they had to fight to get Guidry in jail. The struggle occurred despite her husband having a background in criminal justice and knowing local judges and policemen.
Guidry began the process of grooming by being close to the family. Oliver's father served under Guidry as a deacon. Guidry was also his confessor, making himself privy to intimate details. The mother says they knew Guidry for 10 years prior to the abuse, and because the priest "did not show any red flags" the family regularly spent time with him. They shared meals and special events together and even asked the predator priest to preside over Oliver's brother's wedding. But this request was revoked after the family found out about the abuse.
Oliver was paid to do yardwork for Guidry, who would also give him alcohol. This went on for more than two years prior to abusing Oliver on one occasion while the young man was intoxicated and unconscious.
The Lafayette diocese reportedly showed empathy to the family until a civil lawsuit was filed. The diocese offered counseling services until the father blew the whistle on his son's sexual abuser. After the lawsuit was settled, Dcn. Peyton was taken off the diocese's prayer list. Also, the diocese's online deacon's directory no longer contains Scott Peyton, despite having records of other deacons who are retired or no longer in the diocese.
Lafayette's bishop J. Douglas Deshotel told a Resistance member that Scott Peyton would be reinstated when he was assigned to a parish but that he is still a deacon in good standing.
Members of Lafayette Resistance do not view this small detail as mere data upkeep but as another example of diocesan retribution. The Resistance chapter thought to check the diocesan records earlier this month after seeing a diocesan Facebook post about its deacons. Its page regularly asks followers to pray for its deacons. Some of those posts explicitly pertain to retired deacons that are still listed in diocesan records, such as Dcn. Joe Trahan and Dcn. Thomas Summers. Their names remain on the diocesan register despite the records being updated July 16.
Laura Lowder of Lafayette Resistance wants to make everyone aware of the corruption in the Catholic Church.
"If it can happen in Lafayette, it can happen anywhere," Lowder told Church Militant.
Church Militant has been receiving an ever-increasing number of reports from people at every level of the Church regarding similar scandals. In order to confront this crisis, Church Militant Resistance implements initiatives on the grassroots level such as letter-writing campaigns.
Such initiatives prove successful. The Criminal Justice Policy Review found that "The percentage of parole denials increased as the number of letters contesting parole increased."
Efforts by the Peytons have paid off. Lowder told Church Militant, "Thanks to the work of the Peytons and others in the state, beginning Aug. 1, Louisiana has a new law extending the reporting time for sex abuse crimes. Furthermore, for a three-year period, beginning Aug. 1, all time limits for reporting are suspended."
If you would like to help in the letter-writing campaign to keep this homosexual predator priest behind bars, please contact Laura Lowder at firstname.lastname@example.org. Lafayette Resistance is writing to the address below:
State of Louisiana
LA Committee on Parole
PO Box 94304 - Capital Station
Baton Rouge, LA 70804-9304
Or send an email to the Parole Board: ParoleBoard@la.gov