Lawyer who foretold church scandals writes his story

Thu Dec 20, 2012 5:37am EST
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By Angus MacSwan

London (Reuters) - Ray Mouton was a successful young lawyer in Lafayette, Louisiana, respected in the community and blessed with a loving family, when he received a call from a vicar in the Roman Catholic diocese for a lunch meeting on a fateful day in 1984.

The diocese asked him to defend an errant priest, accused of abusing dozens of children in a rural community. Mouton reluctantly agreed to take on the task.

What followed over the next few years was the uncovering of an institution riddled with pedophile priests on a national scale and efforts at high levels in the Catholic Church to hide the problem away.

For Mouton, it meant the end of his law career, health problems, and anger, depression and guilt.

After many years of writing from his self-imposed exile in France, he finally tells his story in the novel "In God's House". It is a harrowing read laden with sickening detail, but also for Mouton, a work of atonement.

"There's not a day I don't think about the children. When I was writing the book, whenever I wanted to quit, I thought about the victims and their families," he told Reuters.

In person, Mouton, now aged 65, looks like a southern lawyer from central casting, with a head of thick white hair and a sonorous Louisiana drawl.

He chose to tell the story in novel form although the characters, from the lawyer to a senior Vatican official who proves an obstacle to addressing the scandal - are based on real figures.   Continued...