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Louisiana priest immediately suspended after child porn arrest

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(Lisa F Young via wwwshutterstock.com/CNA)

Lafayette, La., Jul 28, 2016 / 03:44 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- Father Felix David Broussard, a priest of the Diocese of Lafayette, La., was arrested yesterday for allegedly possessing more than 500 images of child pornography, according to local police.

In a statement, the Diocese reported that Bishop J. Douglas Deshotel and diocesan staff were “saddened” to learn of the arrest of the priest, who was immediately placed on administrative leave from active priestly ministry.

“The Diocese takes these allegations very seriously and is cooperating fully in every way possible with the investigation,” the statement read. The arrest followed a complaint filed with the Louisiana State Police Special Victims unit, alleging that a computer that the priest had primary access to contained images of child pornography. The unit’s investigation reportedly uncovered over 500 images of pornography involving juveniles, and Fr. Broussard was placed under arrest and booked at the St. Martin Parish jail.

In a news release, state police said they “worked closely with the Diocese of Lafayette during the course of this investigation.” “Louisiana State Police will continue to maintain working relationships with partner law enforcement agencies, individuals, and private entities statewide in an attempt to locate and arrest those individuals who commit crimes against children.”

Bishop Deshotel called a press conference soon after the arrest, saying he wanted to “get the word out as soon as possible.” The bishop said that while Fr. Broussard is innocent until proven guilty, the diocese immediately and temporarily relieved the priest of his duties pending the outcome of the investigation, in compliance with their Safe Environment policies and the U.S. Bishop’s Charter for the Protection of Youth. A different priest will be temporarily placed at the parish to continue serving the needs of the faithful.

In an interview with local news station KLFY, Bishop Deshotel said that the diocese had never heard a complaint against Father Broussard, who was ordained for the diocese in 1993. “Only good letters from people who loved him in the parish. But you know this kind of illness hides itself in a person. We don’t know,” he told KLFY.

Possession of child pornography is not only a state crime, but it is “a crime in church law also. It preys on the most vulnerable in our community and must be vigorously confronted,” the bishop noted in his press conference. “I want to also add my sincere thanks to the officers of the Louisiana State Police for their professionalism and courtesy, as well as their commitment also to protecting the young and the innocent. It was an honor for me to work with them in the common goal that we share - protecting the innocent.”

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