Last Modified: Friday, May 04, 2012 5:38 PM
Those who live on Canary Lane — a short, dead-end gravel road in Duson — said they knew little about Mark Broussard since the former priest moved into the area about seven years ago.
Broussard is accused of sex crimes involving a child back in the late 1980s.
“He didn’t really associate with anybody,” said Christopher Hart, who lives next door to Broussard. “He seemed like an odd guy.”
Those who knew him during the brief time he served as a priest at St. Eugene Catholic Church in Grand Chenier described him as kind and helpful.
“He was adored in the community,” said Glenda Huber, who met Broussard while he was at St. Eugene. “He was a good priest. I never heard a complaint about him.”
Broussard, 56, was arrested at his home March 22 on charges of aggravated rape and 52 counts of sexual battery. Calcasieu Parish Sheriff’s Office officials said they received a letter from a local law firm that accused Broussard of molesting an 8-year-old parishioner at St. Henry Catholic Church in Lake Charles from 1986 to 1989. The alleged victim is now 34.
Broussard — who was ordained by the Diocese of Lake Charles in 1986 — served at St. Henry until 1992. He served at St. Eugene until leaving the priesthood in 1994.
Last week, the American Press spoke with more than a dozen people who knew Broussard, including friends, family members, co-workers and church members. Many refused to comment.
According to Hart, Broussard purchased the home on Canary Lane because he knew the previous owners, who refused to comment for this story.
Hart and his wife, Shannon, had a son who was around 10 years old when Broussard moved into the area. Upon meeting him, Hart said he had an uneasy feeling.
“It’s one of those things where you meet somebody and (later) say, ‘There’s something not quite right with them.’ ”
Pauline Kethley, who also lives on Canary Lane, said that she only saw Broussard was when he was in his car on his way to work.
“He wasn’t very friendly,” she said. “He was very standoffish.”
Ella “T Mae” Booth, 84, a member of the Ladies’ Altar Society at St. Eugene, described Broussard as “very nice,” saying that he was helpful immediately following her husband’s death.
“I don’t have anything negative to say about him,” she said.
Huber said while Broussard was a quiet man, she never saw any signs of inappropriate behavior, “not even once.” However, she said Broussard confided in her that he had a problem, but was not specific about it.
“It is my belief, not knowing any details, (and) after conversations with him, the church was aware he had a problem,” Huber said. “There are so many jobs for people with problems that don’t involve children. If the church was aware, why didn’t they put him in a different job?”
At the time of his arrest, Broussard was working at Maison de Lafayette, a nursing home in Lafayette. He spent four years as the facility’s director of social services.
In a news release, Joe McPherson III, the nursing home’s administrator, said their agency reviewed Broussard’s work performance after his arrest. He said there “has been no suggestion of, hint of, or actual inappropriate behavior by this individual at any time during his term with our facility.”
McPherson said Broussard has since been fired and that law enforcement officials have not contacted the facility since the arrest.
The American Press learned Broussard also worked at Evangeline Oaks Nursing Home in Carencro before moving to Maison de Lafayette. Officials with the facility could not be reached for comment.
According to American Press archives, Broussard earned a master of divinity degree at Notre Dame Seminary in New Orleans.
He remains jailed in the Calcasieu Correctional Center on a $1.2 million bond. Sheriff’s Office spokeswoman Kim Myers said he is separated from the general inmate population because of medical reasons.
In right-to-counsel court last week, Broussard said he intends to hire local attorney Tom Lorenzi to represent him.
Capt. Kip Judice with the Lafayette Parish Sheriff’s Office said Broussard had no previous arrests.