Dad DAVID BOUDREAUZ is serving a life sentence for aggravated rape. The victim? His own 8-year-old daughter. Note that this scum previously did 5 years in prison for sexual battery of the girl's mother, who here is described as "mentally ill." I'm not sure in these cases how valid it is to describe the mother's behavior/psychological reaction as an "illness." If somebody's body is physically assaulted, do we call the bruises and broken bones an "illness"? Or an "injury"? Obviously the latter. So maybe it makes more sense to say that the mother's mind was injured just as her body was. Just a thought. (Also note that this guy molested his own sister. What a piece of sh**.)
Hat tip to Demon Shi for finding this.
By Robert Travis Scott, The Times-Picayune
November 15, 2009, 6:15AM
Sexually assaulted at age 8 by her father in her Gretna home, Rachel Fletcher did something rare and courageous: She told a concerned relative what happened. And when the case came to trial in a Jefferson Parish court two years later, she bravely testified against her father.
Fifteen years later, her father, David Boudreaux, is serving a life sentence in the Louisiana State Penitentiary at Angola for aggravated rape.
But the story did not end there.
Child abusers such as Boudreaux, even when caught, leave a long-lasting and often devastating impact on their victims and others. Each case of abuse sets in motion a potentially decades-long chain of costly events involving law enforcement officers, courts, prisons, social service agencies, counselors, mental health specialists and nonprofit community groups. The crimes often cause collateral psychological damage on relatives and sometimes even on the police investigators and case workers.
"Child sexual abuse is one of the most severe forms of abuse toward children," said Brent Villemarette, deputy assistant secretary for the state's Office of Community Services. "The severity and long-term effect on the children is just astronomical."
Demographically, Fletcher's case fits the pattern of child molesters. National studies show that victims of child molestation tend to be females about 80 percent to 90 percent of the time. About half of the children are younger than 12, and the perpetrator is someone they know, most often the father figure of the house.
What is unusual about Fletcher's case is that she spoke up about the crime. The true number is unknown, but based on the occurrence of belated confessions or revelations, few children report their sexual abuse, child advocacy groups say. They are prevented by a sense of shame, fear or inability to understand or articulate the events. Some children are simply too young or mentally impaired to talk. Others might lack a parental figure they can trust to tell.
From normal life to nightmare
Seventeen years ago, Rachel was living with David Boudreaux's mother while Boudreaux was spending five years in prison for sexual battery of Rachel's mother, Cynthia Fletcher. According to court records, Cynthia Fletcher had treatments for mental illness and did not take custody of her three children. She is now dead. Rachel Fletcher said she never really had a mom.
For a while, the girl's life with her grandmother was happy and fairly normal. She, a cousin and a neighborhood friend spent a lot of time together, played dress-up and called themselves "the three amigos."
"I won't lie to you, those were my best years," Rachel Fletcher said.
David Paul Boudreaux was arrested in 1992. He was eventually convicted of child sexual abuse and sentenced to life in prison without parole. But when Boudreaux was released from prison he soon brought hell into the home, taking advantage of the 8-year-old girl. Fletcher recalls he bolted the doors and took the phones off the wall. She didn't fully understand the acts committed against her until she was years older, and her grandmother failed to figure out what was happening.
"She was not aware of what he was doing at the time," Fletcher said. "She couldn't believe it, because ... a mother can't believe their son could do such a crime like this."
Fletcher said her sister, 14 at the time, and brother, who was 5, knew what was happening. Maybe, in hindsight, one of them could have told a police officer who lived nearby, she said.
"I was threatened, and I was scared for my life," Fletcher said. "But we was kids, we didn't know what to do. We knew if there was something of an emergency, we could call 911. But for molesting or something like that, no."
The rescue came from Boudreaux's younger sister, Ann Gauthreaux, who later in court proceedings testified that Boudreaux had molested her when she was a child. Gauthreaux "noticed something fishy" and had heard that Boudreaux had been bragging he would "break in" his two daughters, Fletcher said. At a youth softball practice, Gauthreaux pulled her niece aside and got the horrid story.
Facing her father in court
Boudreaux was removed from the children and two years later stood trial. He denied molesting anyone. At 10 years old, facing her father in the intimidating trappings of a courtroom under the intense focus of a jury, Rachel Fletcher testified.
The room was miserably hot because of a faulty air conditioner. Boudreaux, who had fired his defense attorney, was allowed to cross-examine his daughter by asking her questions indirectly through a court attorney. A life sentence was at stake, so prosecutors needed Fletcher to relate vivid details of the crime to prove the case.
Fletcher's testimony seemed as if it would never end. The jury reached a verdict of guilty in only 26 minutes.
It was a victory for justice, but the beginning of more hardships for Fletcher. She spent most of her youth being shifted among different caretakers and schools, all the while trying to establish emotional stability.
"Every six months, it was like, I was moved around: group home, foster home, group home, foster home," Fletcher said. "It gets tiring."
The courts and a host of agencies take part in assisting a child without a home. The state Department of Social Services assigns personnel to stand by when arrests are made of a suspected child abuser or collector of pornography, just in case a child is present who needs aide. The department's Office of Community Services assists in preserving evidence in a case, seeking medical exams of the children and connecting the various points of legal and community support, including foster homes.
In addition, a court-appointed special advocate might be assigned to guide a child through the social service and court systems.
With the right help, a victim can recover from the trauma. The younger the child, and the sooner the rescue, the more likely there will be a recovery, experts say.
Abused children "learn to abandon the thought of having a trusting relationship with anyone," Villemarette said. They have a sense that they did something wrong and deserved what happened.
"You spend so much time telling them: You are the child, it's not your fault," Villemarette said.
Repairing the damage
Private community groups are integral to the process. The New Orleans Children's Advocacy Center helps coordinate investigations of child abuse, including the delicate task of interviewing children, many done on video recording for use by prosecutors. The center has 19 forensic interviewers.
The Audrey Hepburn Care Center at Children's Hospital in New Orleans provides medical evaluations of abused children and has several full-time staff members, including a pediatrician. The center conducted evaluations of 1,142 children last year from around the region, of which 71 percent were sexual abuse cases. When police bring in collections of pornography for evaluation, the center helps determine the age of the children in the images.
Family Service of Greater New Orleans, a 113-year-old charity with offices in four parishes, provides psychological treatment for victims and family members affected by child abuse. The group assists in finding a safe home environment and helps counsel families that are trying to remain intact.
Professional counseling, which might be needed by the victim and members of a family affected by a sex crime, costs about $85 per clinical hour, Family Service President Ron McClain said. Few clients have insurance to cover those costs, and the group does not accept Medicaid dollars.
The organization's funding is down because of the poor economy and it has cut back on employee work hours, McClain said. Still, support for child abuse cases remain free and no one is turned away, he said.
The list goes on. For example, the Child Advocacy Center in Jefferson Parish and Prevent Child Abuse Louisiana provide public education and other services.
Professional counselors are contracted by State Police and the attorney general to assist investigators and technicians who come under stress from dealing with child pornography images and sex offenders.
In short, the effort to repair the damage done by child sex offenders is handled by an extensive network of federal, state and community organizations, mostly under the public radar due to the need for privacy. The costs of each case can run into the hundreds of thousands of dollars over time. And sometimes the system works.
At age 16, Fletcher at last found a stable home with her mother's cousin, whom Fletcher calls her godmother. Her new life in St. Tammany Parish became more normal. She received a special education diploma from Fontainebleau High School. She got a cat and became a devoted fan of Disney shows and computer games.
Now 26, Fletcher is able to deal with her past by talking publicly about her story and offering encouragement to other victims, an unconventional and hopeful outcome compared with many others in her situation.
"I take one day at a time," she said. "I know I had a rough childhood, but I don't look at my childhood that much. I've accomplished so much."
One thing still lacking is an apology from her father, who has claimed he is innocent and has tried unsuccessfully to get a new trial.
To her father and other like perpetrators, Rachel Fletcher has a message.
"You know you did wrong. You only can get better if you talk about it and be honest, with the social workers or psychiatrist, whoever y'all see," she said. "Apologize. Don't deny. Be honest."