Louisiana priest arrested for 500 counts of child pornography
The Rev. Father Felix Broussard, pastor of St. Bernard Roman Catholic Church in Breaux Bridge, was arrested on Wednesday by Louisiana State Police on 500 counts of possession of child pornography.
Broussard was released on a $25,000 bond, according to the Associated Press.
Bishop J. Douglas Deshotel of the Diocese of Lafayette said that Broussard was “immediately” placed on administrative leave by the diocese pending the criminal investigation.
“If he’s guilty, he needs to follow the penalties of the state for what was done,” Deshotel said at a Wednesday press conference. “Then there are also ecclesiastical steps, church steps, that have to be taken with regard to his future ministry, and, whether or not that’s possible.”
Broussard, 50, has served as pastor at St. Bernard for two years and has been ordained as a priest for 23.
The bishop said that there was no previous indication that Broussard had problems involving child pornography or sexual abuse.
“Never any complaints to any of us from anyone. In fact he was a much loved pastor, the irony is a very loved man in the parish,” Deshotel said, according to The Advocate. “No complaints have been made that anything physical or any kind of physical abuse occurred.”
The priest was arrested after the Texas State Police’s Special Victims Unit received a complaint earlier this month that a computer Father Felix David Broussard had primary access to contained images indicative of child pornography.
More than 500 images of suspected child pornography were identified on the computer, according to State Police.
In a statement, the Diocese said that it takes the allegations very seriously and is fully cooperating with the investigation.
“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 statement said.
While Deshotel said that Broussard is innocent until proven otherwise, he pointed out that taking immediate action was necessary because of the lessons learned by the church and other institutions that serve the public.
“Transparency, informing the public and taking immediate action once something is known are lessons that we and other institutions, public schools, the Boy Scouts — all of those have learned over the years that this is how this is addressed,” Deshotel said. “So that’s the modus operandi we use.”