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Former priest claims he was not provided attorney during questioning

Last Modified: Wednesday, April 24, 2013 11:28 PM

By Johnathan Manning / American Press

In his initial interview with Calcasieu Parish sheriff’s detectives, former priest Mark Broussard admitted to sexually molesting boys, but adamantly denied having touched the boy investigators were questioning him about.

The videotaped interview was shown in 14th Judicial District Court on Wednesday. Broussard’s attorney, Tom Lorenzi, is seeking to have it thrown out because he says the former priest was not provided an attorney when he requested one.

Lorenzi said that 10 minutes and 30 seconds into the video, Broussard asked for a lawyer. “At that point why did you not stop?” Lorenzi asked Liz Zaunbrecher, who conducted the interview, along with Kathy LeBlanc.

Although the tape of the March 2012 interview was shown in court, parts of Broussard speaking were hard to hear and what Broussard precisely said at that point was indiscernible.

Zaunbrecher and LeBlanc acknowledged that Broussard said he needed an attorney, but said that when he continued to speak, they believed that meant that he wished to go on with the interview.

Zaunbrecher, director of the Sheriff’s Office sex crimes division, said Broussard “talked over” her as he continued to speak. “He continued to talk, and then we progressed from there,” she said.

Prosecutor Cynthia Killingsworth asked her if there was an unequivocal request for an attorney. “No,” Zaunbrecher said.

LeBlanc said that when Broussard first spoke of an attorney, they were “open-ended statements,” such as “I think” and “I might.”

“He didn’t appear to be certain whether he wanted to stop, then when he continued to talk, I was certain he wanted to continue,” she said.

Killingsworth said the law says that defendants have to be clear that they want an attorney. “The tape speaks for itself,” she said.

Lorenzi also asked Zaunbrecher why only the date and not the time was written on the Miranda sheet Broussard signed. She said Broussard was to write the date and time he signed the paper, but listed only the date. She said it is normally her practice to videotape the accused being read the Miranda rights, but the recorder failed, also missing the first few minutes of questioning.

The interview was halted when Broussard said, “I think I need a lawyer. This is pretty damn serious.”

Zaunbrecher said she had an arrest warrant for Broussard, but it wasn’t executed until after the interview was concluded.

Judge David Ritchie said he will rewatch the video and rule on the motion next Wednesday, at which point other motions will also be taken up.

Broussard was originally charged with 224 counts of child sexual abuse, but those were combined into 10 counts that encompassed all of the accusations.

Those 10 counts on which he was indicted in August were amended Wednesday to five counts — two counts of aggravated rape, one count of molestation of a juvenile, one count of aggravated oral sexual battery and one count of oral sexual battery.

Killingsworth said that after researching the counts, she agreed with Lorenzi that the time limit to prosecute the other five had expired.

Authorities said Broussard sexually abused three boys between 1986 and 1991 while a priest at Our Lady Queen of Heaven and St. Henry Catholic Church. He also faces a count, involving one of the same boys, in Cameron Parish, where he served at St. Eugene in Grand Chenier.

Zaunbrecher said she called Broussard, who was living in Duson at the time, the day before the interview and told him she wished to question him about accusations a man had made to the Diocese of Lake Charles.

Zaunbrecher said he told her he had “been waiting for this day for a long time,” and that if it ever came, he planned to plead no contest.

She said after he initially said he didn’t want to meet, he agreed to voluntarily be interviewed at the state police office in Lafayette.

During the interview the next morning, Broussard repeatedly denied molesting the boy who made the accusation, although he said he had formed attractions to other boys and molested them.

“That is all fabricated,” he said of the victim’s accusations. “I was never alone with this kid.”

“This blows my mind. I don’t know where this is coming from,” he said later.

But Broussard acknowledged inappropriately touching other boys. He said that while it was mostly touching, something happened with one of the boys, about 14 years of age, that prompted him to speak with the bishop.

“That totally devastated me,” he said. “I went to the diocese and told them the truths I had to tell and that was it.”

Broussard said that after he left the priesthood he went to work with the elderly so he would not be around children. He said that he has not been sexually inappropriate with anyone in 30 years.

Broussard said he doesn’t identify himself as homosexual. He said “possibly” celibacy had driven him to be attracted to boys. He said that his attraction to boys was “about relationships.”

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