Father Felix David Broussard, above, a priest at St Bernard Roman Catholic Church in Breaux Bridge, Louisiana, was arrested yesterday and booked into St Martin Parish jail on 500 counts of pornography involving juveniles.
According to this report, Broussard was released on a $25,000 bond.
Bishop J Douglas Deshotel of the Diocese of Lafayette said Broussard was “immediately” placed on administrative leave.
Brooks David, of the State Police’s Special Victims Unit, said a complaint had been received earlier this month alleging that a computer that Father Felix David Broussard had primary access to, contained images indicative of child pornography.
During the course of the investigation, over 500 images of child pornography were identified on the computer, according to David.
In a statement, the Diocese said it:
Takes these allegations very seriously and is cooperating fully in every way possible with the investigation.
The Diocese also said:
Bishop Deshotel and staff are providing pastoral care to the congregation of Saint Bernard Parish in Breaux Bridge, and will preach at all Masses at Saint Bernard Parish this weekend. The prayers of the diocesan community are requested.
The Lafayette Diocese is no stranger to abuse scandals. It came under fire and garnered national headlines in 1984 when former priest Gilbert Gauthe became the first in a string of priest sex abuse cases, accused of molesting at least 37 boys in four different parishes.
Gauthe pleaded guilty to 11 counts of child molestation and was sentenced to 20 years in 1986. He was released from prison in September 1995, 11 years early.
Former Bishop Michael Jarrell acknowledged in 2004 that the diocese and its insurers paid out $26 million in settlements to the victims of 15 priests. Calls by the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests to release the names of the priests was refused by Jarrell in 2014.
SNAP, which was founded in 1988 and is the world’s oldest and largest support group for clergy abuse victims, issued a statement yesterday in response the the child pornography charges against Broussard.
David Clohessy, Director of SNAP, said:
A Lafayette priest has been arrested on child porn charges. Now, it’s up to his Catholic supervisors and colleagues to aggressively seek out anyone with suspicions or knowledge of any crimes by him and beg them to call law enforcement.
It’s not enough for church employees to claim they’re ‘cooperating with authorities.’ (In our experience, that usually means they’re doing the bare minimum to avoid being charged with obstruction of justice.) Catholic officials gave this volunteer access to kids. So they owe it to parents, parishioners, police, prosecutors and the public to use their vast resources to actively help law enforcement solve this case and to find and help others who may have been hurt by this volunteer.
Broussard was ordained to the Diocese of Lafayette on June 12, 1993, according to St Bernard’s website.
Hat tip: Trevor Blake