Previous Complaints Made against Broussard
By Crystal Stevenson
February 4, 2016
The Diocese of Lake Charles was aware of at least two other sexual abuse claims against former priest Mark Broussard before they met with the victim whose case is being tried this week in state district court.
George Stearns, chancellor for the diocese, testified Wednesday that the organization received its first complaint of sexual abuse involving Broussard on Feb. 28, 1988.
Stearns said the claim involved a man who said Broussard sexually assaulted him seven years earlier inside the student center at LSU-Eunice.
Stearns, who was not chancellor at the time the complaint was filed, testified based on records kept in the diocese’s personnel files.
Stearns said the victim, who was 14 at the time of the alleged incident, told Monsignor Harry Greig his relationship with Broussard began after the death of his father. He said Broussard consoled him as he mourned his father and was also the one who taught him how to drive.
Stearns testified the victim told Greig that during the summer of 1981 he was with Broussard at the student center playing cards when Broussard offered him a beer. He said at some point during the night the two began measuring the sizes of their penises using a notebook and shortly afterward Broussard asked the boy to join him in the shower.
Stearns testified the victim then told Greig that Broussard started sucking on him while they were in the shower. He said the victim told Greig he began crying and begged Broussard to stop and then got out of the shower and fell asleep on the couch.
Stearns said that when Broussard, who was then assigned to Our Lady Queen of Heaven Catholic Church, was asked about the incident he said “he alone is to blame” and that “this type of situation has not happened before or since.”
Stearns said Broussard told Greig the victim had initiated the incident by laying on Broussard’s back and fondling him before they moved into the shower.
Stearns said that when Broussard was asked if he knew it was wrong, Broussard replied, “He was 15 at the time. Yes, I do know it was wrong.”
Stearns said that when Broussard was asked if the victim deserved compensation for medical treatment he said, “Yes, the kid deserves treatment.”
When asked if Broussard should pay for that treatment, Stearns testified Broussard said no. When asked if the diocese should pay for that treatment, Stearns testified Broussard said he felt the diocese should pay for the treatment and he was angry at the diocese for “the number of years taken away from me by being misdirected into the priesthood.”
Stearns testified the diocese paid the alleged Eunice victim a $26,500 settlement.
He also testified that during the diocese’s investigation, Broussard admitted he “had a struggle with sexuality.”
In March 1988, Stearns said Broussard was sent to Servants of the Paraclete, a rehabilitation facility in Jemez Springs, N.M.
“While he was at Our Lady Queen of Heaven he was in temptation situations he wanted to get out of and he wanted to go to treatment,” Stearns said.
Stearns also testified Wednesday that Broussard admitted fondling a 12-year-old boy in 1988 in the rectory at Our Lady of Queen of Heaven.
The diocese paid that victim $500,000, according to testimony given by Bishop Glen John Provost on Monday.
When Broussard completed treatment, he was assigned chaplain for Lake Charles Memorial Hospital on Sept. 6, 1988, Stearns said. He was also appointed a priest in residence at St. Henry Catholic Church.
Broussard is on trial this week for sexually abusing a boy at St. Henry Catholic Church between 1988 and 1991. The diocese paid that victim, who reported the allegations in 2011, $125,000 for counseling and treatment.
Broussard resigned from the priesthood Jan. 14, 1994. In a letter read by Stearns to the jury that Broussard wrote two days before he gave his resignation, Broussard writes that “this decision shouldn’t surprise anyone who really knows me” and “his life is unfulfilled.”
Calcasieu Parish Sheriff’s Office Detective Kathy LeBlanc testified Wednesday that a fourth victim was discovered during the investigation of the 2011 complaint.
When LeBlanc contacted the fourth victim, he told her that Broussard had gained his trust by buying him McDonald’s Happy Meals.
“Then (Broussard) would give him massages, rub his back, rub his neck, would brush up against him,” LeBlanc testified. “He would have him go in the confessional, sit in his lap and they would pray. And as they prayed, he would wrap his arms around him and fondle him.”
The fourth victim settled with the diocese for $200,000.
LeBlanc said she contacted Broussard after receiving his personnel file from the diocese and because he was living in Duson, was able to interview him with the assistance of the state police at their Lafayette office because it was out of her jurisdiction.
“We already had prepared the arrest warrant and had it signed,” LeBlanc said. After the interview with Broussard, she said, “we decided to put it into effect.”
LeBlanc said state police arrested Broussard, booked him in their jail then brought him to Calcasieu Parish and booked him in the Calcasieu Correctional Center.
Jurors watched a video of LeBlanc’s interview with Broussard in the state police facility. LeBlanc was accompanied in the video by her then-supervisor Lt. Elizabeth Zaunbrecher.
“Oh my God, are you serious?” Zaunbrecher testified Broussard said when he learned of the 2011 accusations. “He said, ‘It is what it is.’ He stated he had decided that if anyone ever pressed charges against him, he would plead no contest. He stated if he had to go to jail, so be it.”
In the video, Broussard tells Zaunbrecher and LeBlanc, “There was nothing with this kid. I never touched this kid. I’ve never been alone with this kid.”
When Zaunbrecher questions Broussard in the video about prior sex abuse claims in the diocese’s personnel file on him, Broussard replies, “I remember the night I met with the bishop and he asked me what I wanted to do with it. I want to tell the whole damn world about it. It only happened one time. But I’m sorry. Nothing ever happened with this boy. Oh, my God. No.”
“I was feeling very good about myself and setting boundaries,” Broussard says in the video. “This would not have happened. It’s a constant reminder that I have that urge. I don’t understand it. That’s why I’m never alone. There is always other Eucharistic ministers and others around during Mass.”
In the video, Broussard admits to fondling two of the other victims and having an erection during one of the encounters.
“You only did what you felt they were OK with?” Zaunbrecher asks Broussard in the video.
“That is correct,” Broussard responds.
The video ends when Broussard says, “This is pretty damn serious. I think I need a lawyer.”