Ex-priest accused of sex crimes appears in court

LAKE CHARLES, LA (KPLC) - The former Catholic priest accused of sex charges involving children was in court Wednesday in Calcasieu Parish.

Mark Broussard's indictment has been amended to exclude some charges. There are now five charges against him of alleged sex crimes involving children.

Court officials on Wednesday played video from March 22, 2012 when prosecutors say Broussard voluntarily answered questions about the allegations.

At one point, on video, Broussard adamantly denies allegations of oral sexual conduct with an alleged child victim.

There were a number of church people in the spectator seats in court, some apparently relatives of an alleged victim or victims.

Eventually, during the recorded interview, Broussard invokes his right to stop talking and requests an attorney.

Defense attorneys for Broussard are trying to get detectives' video interview with him thrown out.

Defense attorney Tom Lorenzi argued that the interview should have stopped at a point when Broussard said he wanted a lawyer.

"Despite the request for an attorney the interview continued until about an hour and ten minutes later when he asked for an attorney again, at which point they stopped," said Lorenzi, who also suggests Broussard was not properly advised of his rights.

Detectives said they did not continue to question Broussard, but that he kept talking.

Following the hearing, District Attorney John DeRosier had this response. "Defense lawyers file all the motions they can and that's their job and it does not necessarily mean that their position is legally accurate," said DeRosier.  He was hesitant to discuss any specifics on the motion heard, since the judge is not expected to rule until Wednesday, May 1.

Earlier, Detective Elizabeth Zaunbrecher testified that, due to a technical glitch, there's no recording of Broussard being read his miranda rights. There is a written form the state says Broussard signed acknowledging he was advised of his rights.

The video was played in court but was extremely difficult to hear in the spectator area.  On it Broussard repeatedly denies some accusations, yet in other parts admits to certain sexual activity. No transcript or copy of the video is available for public review and likely will not be until the case actually goes to trial.

Said Lorenzi, "He (Broussard) and everybody is presumed innocent and it's our position that Mr. Broussard is in fact innocent of the charges that he's charged with."

The indictment against Broussard has been amended to exclude alleged crimes for which the time limit for prosecution has run out. Explained DeRosier, "Remember that this case involves alleged incidents that took place many years ago. Some of those incidents now have passed the point where we can legally prosecute because of the prescriptive period involved."

The charges against Broussard are two counts of aggravated rape (counts 1 and 5) and one count each of aggravated oral sexual battery (count 3) , oral sexual battery(count 4)  and molestation of a juvenile (count 2.)

Lorenzi has also suggested that Broussard may not have been properly advised of his rights because it is not on the video.

Detectives said due to a technical glitch, there is no recording of Broussard being read his rights. There is, however, a written form the state says is signed by Broussard, acknowledging he was advised of his rights.

Broussard's bond is set at $3.4 million. His attorney is also seeking a bond reduction.

Broussard's hearing has been continued until May 1. The rulings on the motions will be handed down on that date.

Other motions include:

Motion to compel production or access to mental health records of one victim;
Motion to compel access to military and medical records and for examination of a victim by defense experts;
Motion to clarify prosecutor's "open file discovery" policy and defendants reply to state's response to defendants motions;
Motion for production of exculpatory and impeachment evidence;
Motion to reduce bail; and
Motion to quash counts 1,2,3, 9 and 10 (which the judge may have granted when the indictment was amended.)

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