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In 2002, the leading television News Magazine in the United States, CBS 60 Minutes, devoted a full hour to a documentary on the clergy abuse crisis and scandal that was headlined by the author and co-produced by Helen Malmgren. The broadcast was awarded the Emmy for that year. Helen Malmgren has won two Emmy Awards, a Peabody Award, a Society of Professional Journalists Award, a National Association of Black Journalists Award and an Academy of Television Arts and Sciences Award. One of her documentaries for CBS News was also chosen by TIME magazine as one of the 10 best television broadcasts of 1997. Malmgren has also reported on the Iraq War, Russian politics, AIDS in Africa, and a wide range of U.S. corporate crimes. She currently lives in New Zealand, where she is working on a book about propaganda in the War on Terror. 


When I met Ray Mouton in March 2002, I was a producer at 60 Minutes, working on one of the biggest stories of the year. Lawsuits had been filed against the Catholic Archdiocese of Boston, alleging that Church officials there had turned a blind eye while one of their priests had raped dozens of children.

It was a horrifying story, and it was becoming more horrific every day as new cases of pedophile priests started coming to light not only in Boston, but in cities all across the country. As I traveled from state to state, talking to lawyers and priests, parents and children, I kept wondering how long the Catholic Church had known about all this, and what if anything they’d ever done about it. Eventually, one of my sources told me: “Call Ray Mouton. He knows where all the bodies are buried.”

I did call Ray, and he told me one of the most astonishing stories I’d ever heard. It was a story about violence, cynicism, and corruption that started in a tiny country church in the South Louisiana and wound its way up through bishops and cardinals until it finally reached the top of the Catholic hierarchy, at the Vatican in Rome. It was also Ray’s own personal story.

In 1984, Ray became the keeper of one of the Catholic Church’s darkest secrets. A private attorney, he was hired by Catholic officials to represent Father Gilbert Gauthe, who would eventually become the first American priest to go to prison for sex crimes against children. Gauthe was a monster. He had raped and brutalized so many little boys that, even decades after he was convicted, I found that a number of Louisiana towns were still coping with the social and psychological effects of having had him as their parish priest.

As Gauthe’s attorney, Ray learned not only about his client’s history of sex crimes against children, but also about the local diocese’s history of facilitating these sex crimes.

This discovery led Ray to find out about other dioceses with similar histories. Eventually, he realized there were pedophile priests abusing children all over the U.S.

When Gauthe went to prison in 1985, Ray continued working on the issue, but by that point he was doing so for his own reasons: he was trying to help children who had been victims of priests like Gauthe, and to prevent more children from being hurt by these priests. In doing so, Ray would bring down on himself the wrath of some of the most powerful men in the Catholic Church.

Ray told his story on camera in my 60 Minutes piece, which won an Emmy Award that year. He has caught the spirit of that story in his novel, which, although fictional, rings true in virtually every detail. Today, there are men in exalted positions in the Catholic Church who will remember Ray and Ray’s story and their own roles in it.

As the Church struggles to deal with waves of pedophile priest scandals, lawsuits, and headlines, some of those men may wish they had reacted differently to that first case in Louisiana.

A novel about one of the great scandals of our time
by Ray Mouton

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