Lake Charles priest sex abuse trial pending
By Claire Taylor
August 6, 2014
| Former priest Mark A. Broussard awaits trial for allegedly sexually abusing boys. |
In December 2011, when the Diocese of Lake Charles received credible allegations that a former priest had sexually abused boys, church officials immediately reported it to police.
That's what church leaders are supposed to do, according to the Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People adopted in 2005 by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops.
"The Diocese of Lake Charles immediately reports any allegations involving the abuse of minors to the local authorities," the Rev. Nathan Long wrote on behalf of the Diocese in a statement to The Daily Advertiser this week.
But that wasn't the case before church reforms that grew out of priest sex scandals across the nation, starting in the Diocese of Lafayette in the 1980s with the notorious former priest, Gilbert Gauthe.
Neither the Diocese of Lake Charles or the Diocese of Lafayette reported child sexual abuse allegations at the hands of their priests prior to the church reforms in the 2000s.
Bishop Michael Jarrell of the Lafayette Diocese has come under fire for the way he is handling allegations reported to the diocese in 1992 that just surfaced in records uncovered during a Minnesota Public Radio investigation. MPR found court documents that allege the Rev. Gilbert Dutel, a priest who remains pastor of a Lafayette church, sexually molested a boy in the 1970s.
The priest denies the allegations. Jarrell's spokesman, Monsignor Richard Greene, said the incident was investigated and found not credible.
"Bishop Jarrell should be announcing the commencement of a complete investigation and issuing a public invitation or all persons who may have a complaint against Fr. Dutel to come forward," Ray Mouton, who defended Gauthe in the 80s, wrote Monday on his Facebook page.
"This is the way these things are handled in dioceses that comply with the charter and place the protection of children on equal footing with the protection of its priests," Mouton continued.
In the Calcasieu Parish case, Mark A. Broussard, a former priest, was arrested in March 2012 at his home in Duson. The arrest came after an adult male wrote to the Diocese of Lake Charles in December 2011 alleging Broussard had molested him between 1986 and 1989 when he was a boy and Broussard was a priest at St. Henry Catholic Church in Lake Charles.
Calcasieu Parish district attorney John DeRosier was quoted in previous news reports as saying two events were reported to the diocese, but the church made no report to police until the 2011 allegation.
According to bishop-accountability.org, the diocese's personnel file on Broussard contained accounts of sexual contact with four other boys that was not reported to police. The organization reported that Broussard was arrested in April 2012 on new charges regarding one of the four boys in the personnel file.
Calcasieu Parish Sheriff Tony Mancuso said at the time of the arrest that different people are in charge at the diocese now and there was no evidence of a cover-up.
Asked Wednesday about not reporting the original allegations, the Diocese of Lake Charles released the same statement it released upon the arrest of Broussard in 2012, saying the diocese will continue to cooperate fully with civil authorities.
Prior to 1980, what is now the Diocese of Lake Charles was part of the Diocese of Lafayette. The late Jude Speyrer served as the first bishop of the Diocese of Lake Charles from 1980 until Feb. 22, 2001, when Edward K. Braxton was ordained bishop. He served until June 2005.
The current bishop is Glen John Provost, a native of Lafayette who served in the Diocese of Lafayette as pastor of St. John Cathedral from 1985 to 1998 and pastor of Our Lady of Fatima from 1998 until March 6, 2007.
Broussard was released from the Calcasieu Parish Jail in October 2013 on a $1.5 million bond. His trial is set for Jan. 26, according to Holly Carter, spokeswoman for the Calcasieu Parish District Attorney's Office.
The statute of limitation for certain sex crimes when the victim is a juvenile is 30 years from the time the victim turns 18 years old, Carter said. The statute of limitation applies for crimes such as sexual battery, oral sexual battery and molestation of a juvenile, she said.
There is no statute of limitations for aggravated rape, forcible rape, crime against nature or aggravated crime against nature, Carter said.
According to the Lafayette Diocese, the allegations against Dutel were investigated by former Bishop Harry Flynn. Flynn also has been criticized for his handling of child sex abuse cases in the Diocese of Lafayette, where he served as bishop from 1989 until 1994, and at the Diocese of St. Paul-Minneapolis, Minnesota, where Frey was archbishop during priest sex abuse allegations.
The diocese has no record of Flynn meeting with the alleged victim, there is very little in the diocesan file regarding the investigation and there is no report on the findings of the investigation, Greene said.
In a May deposition, Flynn — now retired and 81 years old — testified more than 100 times that he doesn't recall how he handled any of the sex abuse cases.
Last week, Jarrell told The Daily Advertiser he does not intend to re-open the investigation of the Lafayette priest but "very likely" will ask his confidential review board to look into his handling of the matter.
Greene said medical information about priests is confidential. The priest in question "has never been sent by the Diocese for treatment of pedophilia," he said.