The question, “Why now?” has been asked more than once. With David Primeaux pushing daisies going on four months, why even do a story, much less a follow-up? Why expose a dead man’s secrets?
My answer is Peter Smithson and Bradford Port (not their real names, as the story, "The Day Primeaux Died," indicates), and the many other victims of Primeaux, most of whom quietly and anonymously carry the anger and shame of what he did to them — emotions made even more raw by a church hierarchy historically inclined to protect its shepherds rather than its sheep. Most of the victims, I suspect, had no idea where Primeaux melted off to, what he was doing or that he was dead. Don’t they deserve to know?
Some of them, like Peter, managed to move on with their lives and become successful adults. For them, the trauma of molestation is a shadow that trails them, and shadows have no substance — they’re just an absence of light. But for others, like Bradford, the emotional wound never closes, and self-medication through substance abuse — and the dysfunction it engenders (and in Bradford’s case, suicide) — is a ready remedy.
The men who traveled from Lafayette to Petersburg, Va., last Dec. 27 (Peter and Roger Port, Bradford’s nephew) were propelled by a complexity of motivations. Exacting revenge for the emotional wreckage Primeaux wrought and then left behind without legal repercussion was one of them. But I believe them when they tell me altruism — isolating David Primeaux, rendering him a pariah to prevent him from ever preying on children again — was the flag waving highest on their pole.
“Pedophilia in the Catholic Church is not new now. I think getting the families out there to try to pull that from their children to see if anything happened will be long-term for the greater good,” says Roger. “I think we have an obligation, if there are people in that town he was doing it to as [Peter] and I suspected, that the community and families can approach their kids. That’s the Christian outcome to something like this.”
As Judy Smithson, Peter’s wife and the de facto moderator of the informal David Primeaux survivor support group here in Acadiana, puts it, “You can live as a victim or live as survivors, and it’s a choice you make. You can blame Father Primeaux your whole life, or you can say, ‘You know what, what happened to me took away what I can’t fix, but I can maybe help the next person.’”
But helping the next person is made the more difficult by the Richmond media’s uncanny aversion to this story. Soon after its publication I sent a link to “The One Who Got Away” to all the major media in Richmond — the TV network affiliates, the daily. Only two reporters reached out to me: a staff writer for The Commonwealth Times, Virginia Commonwealth University’s student newspaper, with whom I shared information (but as of this writing I have yet to see any reporting); and an investigative reporter for one of the TV stations, who replied, “Hi Walter, fascinating story. I had no idea. If he wasn’t dead already, I’d jump on it in a heart beat. I’ll have to think about whether this is worth tackling and run it by my boss. Thanks for the heads up.”
I never heard back from him.
Pedophilia is a psychiatric disorder. There are treatments to suppress it — counseling and pharmacological intervention — but there is no cure short of chemical (or physical) castration. Was David Primeaux still molesting children? We may never know. But there is some evidence that his volunteer activities might have given him access to adolescents. Counseling for those kids, if they were violated, could prevent decades of anguish. Just ask Peter and Bradford.
Two Lafayette men have been revealed by police as the infamous duo behind a caper that shook our fair city to its core.
She’s the daughter of the legendary Johnny Cash, but she’s been a gifted artist in her own right for three decades, and she’s coming to Lafayette.
The Lafayette Parish School Board has received a second letter of demand related to last year’s insurance debacle, this time from Key Benefit Administrators claiming it’s owed $93,000 from the school system.
Acadiana's nightlife guide.
The Louisiana coastline is vanishing faster than mappers can keep track.
A bill that would have overridden local ordinances prohibiting public and private employers from discriminating against lesbian, gay and transgender people has been pulled within less than a week of being filed.
The panel that selects nominees for a controversial New Orleans area flood control board — a board that is suing more than 90 oil, gas and pipeline companies — is set to discuss legislation affecting its independence.
State prison officials cannot keep secret the seller and manufacturer of the two drugs purchased for executions at the Louisiana State Penitentiary, a federal judge ruled Wednesday.
State lawmakers will not appeal a judge's ruling that it was improper to use $3.7 million from a probation and parole officers' retirement fund to balance the state's operating budget.
Prepare yourselves for sun
Here's your daily look at late-breaking national and international news, upcoming events and the stories that will be talked about Thursday, March 06, 2014:
Acadiana's nightlife guide.
Conservatives have been losing their minds over this satirical bit on the Colbert Report.
Due to the chaos of Mardi Gras and the weather, the entry deadline for this year's INDesign Awards has been extended by one week.
The Lafayette Parish School Board leaves a lot to be desired, but is scrapping the election process in favor of an appointed board the answer?
Queen Evangline and King Gabriel ruled Tuesday night
The House approved legislation Tuesday night to roll back a recently enacted overhaul of the federal flood insurance program, after homeowners in flood-prone areas complained about sharp premium increases.
IND Style does Gabriel
Newsy bits for the fam
The NFL has formally designated New Orleans' Jimmy Graham as a tight end for the purposes of his franchise tag value, which is now set at $7.05 million next season unless Graham and the Saints subsequently agree on a long-term deal.
A federal appeals panel ruled Monday that businesses don't have to prove that they were directly harmed by BP's 2010 Gulf Of Mexico oil spill to collect settlement payments.
The Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development has closed Interstate 10 from I-49 in Lafayette to Seigen Lane in Baton Rouge.
Jim Bernhard, who engineered the sale of The Shaw Group for $3 billion, recently has told several people involved in Democratic politics that he intends to run for governor in 2015.
Saluting the red, white and blue — let freedom ring
Acadiana's nightlife guide.
Feel the spectrum
Unless you work for an energy company, specific decisions related to the economics, risk, etc. are not conveyed to the public. They are a closely guarded secret.
A New Orleans levee board wants to hold the oil and gas industry accountable for decades of damage to our state’s coastline, but the Legislature may be poised to put the kibosh on the suit.
Lafayette native screenwriter returns
New standards curb elective induction