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Judge says prosecution can use former priest's recorded interview

Last Modified: Thursday, May 02, 2013 11:33 AM

By Johnathan Manning / American Press

Judge David Ritchie on Wednesday said prosecutors can use the recorded interview of authorities’ initial questioning of former priest Mark Broussard.

Broussard is accused of molesting young male parishioners in the late 1980s and early ’90s.

His attorney, Tom Lorenzi, asked the court to throw out the interview because he said Broussard told detectives he needed a lawyer 10 minutes and 30 seconds into the recorded portion of the interview.

Ritchie ruled that it was not an unequivocal request.

The video was played in court last week, but the courtroom audio was poor.

Ritchie said that since then he had reviewed the video, rewatching the pertinent section several times. He repeated what Broussard said.

After reading a written accusation that Calcasieu Parish sheriff’s Detective Liz Zaunbrecher provided him, Broussard said to detectives, “I really, I really would like, I think I want a lawyer. This is not right.”

Ritchie said Broussard then continued without prompting: “Well, I don’t, I think I mentioned to you over the phone that I don’t want court cases to hurt families.”

In the video, Broussard adamantly denied molesting the boy accusing him, but admitted to molesting other boys.

Lorenzi also asked Ritchie to reduce Broussard’s bond. Since his March 2012 arrest, the former priest has been kept in the Calcasieu Correctional Center. His bond is $3.42 million.

Broussard was originally charged with 224 counts of child molestation, but the prosecution is taking him to trial on five counts.

Lorenzi told Ritchie that Broussard’s family could come up with a $200,000 cash bond.

Broussard’s sister, Susan Bellon, took the stand, telling the judge that the family would be responsible for his returning to court.

Ritchie said he was going to wait to rule on the matter, but that he would not reduce the bond all the way to $200,000.

Ritchie denied a defense motion that would have forced the state to seek one of the accuser’s mental health records. Lorenzi said the records are important because the accuser said he did not recall the molestation until he was contacted by authorities.

According to court testimony, Broussard confessed in 1998 to molesting the boy and others, but the boy didn’t recall the actions until hearing of the confession.

Lorenzi said Broussard’s only statement about the boy was in relation to one of the charges that has been dismissed because the statute of limitations has passed.

Ritchie also instructed prosecutor Cynthia Killingsworth to contact the detectives who investigated the case to ensure they had turned over all the evidence. Killingsworth said that is protocol, but that she would do so earlier than planned.

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