Lafayette

Mar 23, 2012 7:33 PM by Maddie Garrett

Former Priest Arrested, Neighbors Say They Had "Suspicions"

A former priest, living in Duson, is now accused of sexually abusing children while working for the church. 56-year-old Mark Broussard is charged with two counts of aggravated rape and 52 counts of sexual battery, after the Calcasieu Parish Sheriff's Office said a 34-year-old man came forward and accused the former priest of sexual abuse. The man said he was sexually abused for three years, between 1986 and 1989, while Broussard was a priest at St. Henry Catholic Church in Lake Charles.

When Calcasieu Parish Sheriff's Deputies started investigating the man's accusations, deputies said documents were also located in Broussard's personnel file with the diocese in which Broussard indicated sexual contact with at least four other boys.

The Diocese of Lake Charles would not answer KATC's questions about if it was aware of the documents, and if so, why the accusations were not reported to law enforcement.

Morris LeBleu with the Diocese would only state that they received the allegations in December 2011 and "immediately reported the allegations to the District Attorney and Sheriff. The Diocese of Lake Charles has and will continue to cooperate fully with all civil authorities. In light of the ongoing proceedings, the Diocese will have no further comment on this matter."

In 1992, Broussard was transferred from St. Henry in Lake Charles to St. Eugene Catholic Church in Grand Chenier. In 1994, Broussard resigned from the priesthood.

Neighbor Shannon Hart said he moved in next door on Canary Lane in Duson about six to eight years ago. She said she had a suspicious feeling about him from the beginning.

"He just didn't sit right with me, there was just something about him so we kept our son at home. And he had offered to watch my son after school and we said no," said Hart.

Hart said the allegations are troubling, especially since her own son grew up with Broussard next door.

"It gives you a sense that your kids have been in danger for years, and you had no real, you had your suspicions and your gut feelings but you can't really act on it. You can't report it, you know, because you have no proof," she said.

Broussard remains in the Calcasieu Parish Jail on $1.2 million bond. The Sheriff's Office and the Calcasieu District Attorney are asking if there are any other victims, to please come forward.

The Survivor Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAP) also released a statement, saying "It is unconscionable that someone could have knowledge of these depraved crimes and yet do nothing to stop them. We hope that Louisiana law enforcement officials will look beyond Fr. Broussard's crimes and investigate the clear cover-up that took place at St. Henry Catholic Church."

 

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