Father John Wesley Andries
Diocese of Alexandria
- 1997: Mater Dolorosa Church (Pineville, LA)
- 1998-1999: Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary Church (Campti, LA); Our Lady at the Rosary Church (Black Lake, LA); St. Joseph Catholic Church (Clarence, LA)
- 2002: St. Margaret Catholic Church (Boyce, LA)
Summary of Sexual Abuse Allegations Against Father John Wesley Andries
In February 2019, the Diocese of Alexandria publicly named Fr. John Wesley Andries in its list of clergy credibly accused of sexual abuse against a minor. This list comes nearly two decades after Fr. Andries was convicted of molesting a male minor in 2001. While Andries was suspended from the ministry shortly before his conviction, he was previously accused of abusing a minor in 1998 and briefly suspended from ministry, according to sources.
Fr. Andries is the subject of at least two publicly known allegations, one in 1998 and another in 2001.
The 1998 Incident and Subsequent Suspension
In December of 1988, Fr. John Wesley Andries had duties at three churches in the Natchitoches Parish: Nativity Catholic Church in Campti; Our Lady at the Rosary Church in Black Lake; and St. Joseph Catholic Church in the Clarence area. According to sources, Fr. Andries sexually abused a minor in the rectory of one of the aforementioned churches. The family reported the incident to the police, but no charges were formally brought, as the family wanted to protect the anonymity of the victim. Further details about the nature of the assault are not publicly known.
In response to the allegation, Fr. Andries was removed from the parish and was sent to St. Luke Institute, a mental health center that treats priests who have abused children. After his six-month-long treatment concluded, an attorney for the Diocese of Alexandria stated St. Luke advised the diocese that Fr. Andries could return as long as he did not associate with children unsupervised.
The 2001 Assault and Diocese Response
While the incident in the Natchitoches Parish was reported internally and to law enforcement, those close to Fr. John Wesley Andries claim they never knew. According to sources, a family met Fr. Andries in 1996 when he was still a deacon. Fr. Andries and the family grew close; he ate dinner with them often and even officiated the oldest daughter’s wedding. In 1998, the family says that Fr. Andries told them he was going away for a while because “he was questioning his vocation.” However, unknown to the family, Fr. Andries was accused of molesting a boy in Natchitoches, and as a result, was being suspended from ministry—albeit temporarily.
When Fr. Andries returned nearly a year later, the family says they welcomed him back from what they thought was a “period of sabbatical.” According to an attorney for the Diocese of Alexandria, the bishop of St. Margaret’s Church in Bunkie “restored his faculties based on the recommendations of those professionals [at St. Luke].” One of those recommendations was that Fr. Andries was not to “associate with children except when supervised.” However, court documents reveal that in the fall of 2000, Fr. Andries accompanied the Holy Saviour Menard High football team to out-of-town games and would pray with team members before home games. The football coach at the time—who was unaware of the allegations and the restrictions—stated that Fr. Andries was around the team often. “He had a love for the game and a lot of those kids on that team in some way related to him,” the football coach said. “I felt comfortable with him being around.”
The family Fr. Andries grown close to was also kept in the dark about St. Luke’s recommendations, and they continued to invite him into their home for dinner. One night, after dinner ran late, the family says they invited Fr. Andries to stay the night. Because the family had just moved into the home and the parents were sleeping on the couch, they offered Fr. Andries an extra bed in their youngest son’s room. In the night, the family’s lawyer stated that the son (victim) awoke to find “fluid all over his back and bed” while Fr. Andries fondled him.
The victim told his family, and the family immediately alerted the bishop. The victim’s father alleges that the bishop advised them against calling the police and told them “they should think of the church” and to “pray on it.” The victim’s family called the police, and they conducted an investigation. After DNA evidence implicated Fr. Andries in the assault, he turned himself in.
The Trial Following the ’01 Assault
Fr. John Wesley Andries was charged with sexual molestation in 2003. While Fr. Andries ultimately pleaded guilty in May of that year, he initially maintained his innocence. The family’s lawyer said—and court documents corroborate—that Fr. Andries pleaded not guilty in the early stages of the trial and rejected many plea offers. Fr. Andries was sentenced to five years in prison, with all but two suspended, and was required to receive psychological treatment. The victim’s family says at the sentencing hearing, Fr. Andries offered them and the victim an apology they believed to be insincere.
In addition to the criminal suit, the victim’s family brought a personal injury claim against Andries for the “severe permanent damages for which he has obtained.” No further information about this suit and any potential settlement are publicly available.
Fr. John Wesley Andries served two years in jail, and according to sexual-offender records, began work for a Vermillion Parish construction company shortly after his release. Fr. Andries died on December 31, 2013.
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