The Rev. F. David Broussard, charged 16 months ago with 500 counts of possession of child pornography, may yet get his day in court.
But it didn't happen Monday in 16th Judicial District Court in St. Martin Parish, where he was scheduled to appear before Judge Vincent J. Borne. Broussard's name was called in court simply as "Felix Broussard," but he did not appear before the judge after court officials scoured the courtroom to see if the defendant was present to stand. Court officials said they were not fully certain why Broussard was absent.
The likelihood is that Broussard's attorney, Thomas Guilbeau of Lafayette, was not available for Broussard's defense. Guilbeau's office said Monday morning the veteran defense attorney was in Lafayette Parish, where he is expected to represent a defendant in a weeklong trial.
Robert Chevalier, the 16th Judicial Court assistant district attorney, was not at the courthouse either, his office staff said. Nor was Chevalier available for comment.
District Attorney Bo Duhé was not expected at his office, his assistant said, and he was not available for comment.
Broussard remained free on $25,000 bond.
A priest for more than two decades, Broussard was arrested in July 2016 after a repair technician discovered more than 500 images of child sex abuse on Broussard's personal computer. Broussard had brought the computer in for repairs and the technician, after discovering the images, was required by law to report the crime.
Broussard had been assigned to St. Bernard Roman Catholic Church in Breaux Bridge at the time of his arrest; he was also chancellor at the church school.
A police investigation revealed the images were on Broussard's computer for about two years. None of the images were of local children, authorities said.
On the weekend after his arrest, Broussard sent a letter of apology to his parishioners by way of Most Rev. Douglas Deshotel, bishop of Lafayette, who offered Masses at St. Bernard that weekend and read the letter to parishioners.
Nonetheless, Broussard personally entered a plea of not guilty to the possession of child pornography charges in May before Judge Paul de Mahy.
At his arrest, Broussard was suspended from his priestly duties by Deshotel. Church law says sex with minors is a sin of adultery and are considered criminal. If he is convicted, the church could convene a tribunal for Broussard, and remove him from the priesthood.