Matherne pleads guilty in molestation case

Published 12:00 am Saturday, February 19, 2000

LEONARD GRAY / L’Observateur / February 19, 2000

HAHNVILLE – Tears flowed in the courtroom as Brian Matherne pled guilty Friday to all felony charges, 33 in all, of child molestation and aggravated crime against nature.

The plea came as part of an agreement made Thursday afternoon.

“I do not know why I did what I did, but it was never my intention to hurt anyone,” Matherne said, part of his public statement after the plea was accepted by 29th Judicial District Judge Robert Chaisson.

Matherne’s sentencing is scheduled Tuesday at 10 a.m., during a hearingwhich victims may address the court in closed session.

The former teacher and coach at Sacred Heart School in Norco faces a potential maximum sentence of 480 years. His total charges include onecount of attempted crime against nature, one count of attempted molestation of a juvenile, seven counts of aggravated crime against nature and 24 counts of molestation of a juvenile.

Trial was originally set Tuesday, but after his arraignment on the final charges this week, District Attorney Harry Morel said, a witness Matherne hoped would testify on his behalf instead revealed himself as yet another victim.

“I have let down so many people,” Matherne continued. “I have hurt the imageand reputation of the teaching profession and the Catholic Church. NeitherSacred Heart School nor the Archdiocese of New Orleans knew or could have known anything about these offenses.”He apologized to the victims, their families, his fellow teachers, the school and church and to his own family, “which has been deeply hurt also, but has found it in their hearts to forgive me, to support me and to love me.”Prosecutor Kim McElwee said of the plea agreement that the two victims who came forward on Feb. 11, now age 30, weakened Matherne’s resolve tocontinue his legal battle. After one of those men announced himself asanother victim, “whatever he (Matherne) was hanging onto crumbled.”McElwee and other attorneys could not reveal the expected sentence Chaisson will impose on Tuesday, but sources indicate it could be as much as 30 years of mandatory prison time, with 10 more years on probation.

Whatever the exact sentence will be, McElwee said, “It’ll be enough time to make sure if he ever gets out, he’ll never hurt anyone again.”McElwee, who endured months of trial preparation and painful interviews with the victims, commented, “If he was going to plead, he should’ve done it a long time ago.”Matherne’s attorney, Corbett Ourso Jr., commented afterward thatMatherne “said it all” during his public apology. He added that Matherne’sfamily has a lot of mixed emotions, but they continue to love and support him.

“He gave up the fight – this was his wish,” Ourso said.

Morel said the victims are now in the 15-to-30 years age range, with the offenses having taken place between June 1985 and June 1999. Theyoungest known victim was age 8 or 9 at the time, with most victims 12 to 15 years old at the time.

“This ends it,” Morel stated.

Asked by reporters if leniency in sentencing was expected, Morel responded, “The leniency is that he doesn’t get 300 years.”

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