Ex-Local Priest Gets 111 Years
LeBrun sentenced for sex abuse in Arizona

By Patrick M. O'Connell
South Bend Tribune
January 14, 2006

Former Little Flower Catholic Church pastor Paul LeBrun was sentenced Friday to the maximum 111 years in prison for sexually abusing Arizona boys in the late 1980s and early 1990s.

Judge Crane McClennen handed out the sentence in Maricopa County Superior Court in Mesa, Ariz., following an hour and a half of emotional testimony by victims and their relatives, the Arizona Republic reported.

After the sentence was read, LeBrun, 49, dressed in a black-and-white striped sheriff's jumpsuit, was consoled by his attorneys and showed little emotion as he shuffled across the courtroom for fingerprinting.

Relatives and friends of the victims applauded the sentence but said it cannot reverse the damage caused by LeBrun.

"We've seen justice, but it's still not going to repair the victims," said Mary-Louise Hayes of Tempe, Ariz. "I'm happy to see him sentenced to a full term."

Hayes said her cousin was abused as a boy by LeBrun in South Bend."I think (the trial) allowed the victims in Indiana to speak out," Hayes said. "Their voices were not heard in Indiana; they were heard here."

LeBrun was found guilty Nov. 17 of sexually abusing 11- to 13-year-old boys in Arizona from 1986 to 1991. The jury found him guilty of three counts of sexual misconduct with a minor and three counts of child molestation. He was found not guilty of one child molestation charge and the jury of nine women and three men deadlocked on five other sex charges. He faced a minimum sentence of 81 years.

The former youth minister also was the subject of a 2002 Indiana State Police investigation for allegedly abusing boys while he served as associate pastor at Little Flower in South Bend during the mid-1980s. But the cases were nearly 20 years old and could not be prosecuted because of Indiana's statute of limitations.

Four of the alleged Indiana victims testified during the Arizona trial even though they were not part of the charges in the case and LeBrun could not be prosecuted for those accusations.

"You took from them their youth, you took from them their innocence, and in some cases, you took away their trust in God," McClennen said before imposing the sentence.

The judge said he was sorry authorities in Indiana weren't able to put a stop to LeBrun's alleged actions, instead allowing the priest to move to Arizona, where he preyed on children.

"Physical scars can heal," McClennen said. "You inflicted emotional scars on people. I heard them from the witness stand. I don't think these scars will ever heal."

Ken Huls, LeBrun's attorney, said the priest "helped hundreds of thousands of people," ranging from troubled youths to death row inmates. He said LeBrun would appeal his conviction and sentence.

Bob Huhn, an Arizona state Department of Corrections spokesman, said LeBrun will serve his time in a sex crimes unit. Prison officials will decide if he needs protective segregation or additional security.

Indiana opinions

Dale Jacquay, who said LeBrun molested him when he was 14 and 15 years old when LeBrun served at Little Flower in the early 1980s, believed the sentence was appropriate.

"I feel vindicated that he's gotten the maximum sentence because his position in the community, as a priest, is the most objectionable person that could ever perform the things that he's done," Jacquay said.

Jacquay testified at the Arizona trial but did not go back for the sentencing Friday.

"I don't feel I have to invest anymore of myself or my life in this," Jacquay said.

Jacquay allowed The Tribune to publish his name for the first time after LeBrun was convicted in November. Since then, he said he has received words of encouragement from people in his past, including a former high school teacher.

In a letter submitted to the court for the sentencing hearing, Victor Saavedra, 37, one of the men who allegedly was a victim of LeBrun in South Bend during the 1980s, wrote the former pastor "needs to be stopped forever so he will not hurt another innocent child."

"Paul is a monster preying on young, scared, sad and vulnerable kids," Saavedra wrote. "Paul is evil and cannot be rehabilitated. He has no remorse. He accepts no responsibility for his actions. He is playing a 'poor victim' card to gain sympathy. ... I ask you to protect the future of the children not yet hurt by Paul LeBrun. No one can go back and erase the pain that I experienced first hand by this evil man. You however have the ability to stop him forever. Please do so."

Holy Cross actions

Richard Nussbaum, attorney and spokesman for the Congregation of the Holy Cross, said the province accepts the verdict and sentence.

"The jury acted in good faith and the judge acted in good faith with the imposition of the sentence," Nussbaum said.

LeBrun has not been an active priest since 2000, after an Arizona man came forward about alleged abuse and Holy Cross spoke with two men in South Bend who claimed LeBrun molested them 20 years earlier.

Nussbaum said the province will send paperwork informing the Vatican of the conviction and sentence. Vatican officials then will decide whether to defrock LeBrun, a process called laicization that takes back the sacrament of Holy Orders.

Arizona Republic reporter Jim Walsh and Tribune staff writer Gwen O'Brien contributed to this report.

Staff writer Patrick M. O'Connell:
(574) 235-6357


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