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June 25, 2003

Too Little, Too Late

David 'Kip' Koontz

Billy Gaines is dead. He was a 19-year-old who was really just beginning his life.

He was respected, admired, loved.

We find out that a contributing factor to his death may have been the irresponsibility of a priest who had allegedly been serving him beer at a cookout.

Press reports state that the only person at the cookout of legal drinking age was the priest.

A priest, who in 1986, faced charges that he supplied alcohol and marijuana to an 18-year-old.

A priest, who in 1992, again faced allegations of supplying alcohol to a teen.

In both cases, the priest underwent a psychological evaluation and was allowed to return to the parish.

It seems that for Billy Gaines, unfortunately, that wasn't much help.

What exactly is it with the Roman Catholic Church that allows many of its priests to behave in the most deplorable manner, yet allows its priests to remain in their parishes by their superiors?

Why is there seemingly no discipline for the errant priests?

In this case, a minor was allegedly served alcohol by a priest who had faced allegations of doing so in the past.

The never-ending litany of sexual molestation cases confronting the Church has the institution reeling.

One has to ask: do the Catholic Church and its priests see themselves as invincible and above the law?

It is maddening, and so very saddening, that someone from whom one is supposed to find counsel and comfort may have aided and abetted in the death of Billy Gaines.

It is maddening, and so very saddening, that the priest who did this may have flaunted his authority, broken the law and allegedly done so before, yet his superiors apparently didn't find it reason enough to do anything about it.

The loss of Billy Gaines was already tragic.

This, unfortunately, only makes it more so.

Oh, but this time, the priest was relieved of his duties.

Seems it may have been a case of too little, too late.

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