Trial Date Set for Feb. 5 for Priest in Child Pornography Case
By Ken Stickney
November 27, 2017
|Bishop J. Douglas Deshotel says Catholic politicians must listen to all.|
The Rev. F. David Broussard, charged 16 months ago with 500 counts of possession of child pornography, may yet get his day in court.
But it didn't happen Monday in 16th Judicial District Court in St. Martin Parish, where he was scheduled to appear before Judge Vincent J. Borne. And it won't happen until at least Feb. 5, which is when attorneys have agreed to try the felony case.
Broussard's name was called in court simply as "Felix Broussard," but he did not appear before the judge after court officials scoured the courtroom to see if the defendant was present to stand. Court officials initially were uncertain why Broussard was absent.
The likelihood was that Broussard's attorney, Thomas Guilbeau of Lafayette, was not available for Broussard's defense Monday. Guilbeau's office said Monday morning the veteran defense attorney was in Lafayette Parish, where he was expected to represent a defendant in a weeklong trial.
Robert Chevalier, the 16th Judicial Court assistant district attorney, was not at the courthouse either, his office staff said. Nor was Chevalier available for comment.
A spokeswoman for the St. Martin Clerk of Court, Criminal Department, said Monday afternoon that attorneys had agreed by phone to move the trial date to Feb. 5.
Broussard remained free Monday on $25,000 bond.
A priest for more than two decades, Broussard was arrested in July 2016 after a repair technician discovered more than 500 images of child sex abuse on Broussard's personal computer. Broussard had brought the computer in for repairs and the technician, after discovering the images, was required by law to report the crime.
Broussard had been assigned to St. Bernard Roman Catholic Church in Breaux Bridge at the time of his arrest; he was also chancellor at the parish school.
A police investigation revealed the images were on Broussard's computer for about two years. None of the images were of local children, authorities said.
On the weekend after his arrest, Broussard sent a letter of apology to his parishioners by way of Most Rev. Douglas Deshotel, bishop of Lafayette, who offered Masses at St. Bernard that weekend and read the letter to parishioners.
Nonetheless, Broussard personally entered a plea of not guilty to the possession of child pornography charges in May before Judge Paul de Mahy.
At the time of Broussard's arrest, Deshotel suspended him from his priestly duties. Church law says sex with minors is a sin of adultery and is considered criminal. If he is convicted, the church could convene a tribunal for Broussard and remove him from the priesthood.