Sex offender registration of Todd Michael Duquette, who was recently released from prison in Louisiana after having molested several young boys to include, according to Brandi Melissa, two older brothers of hers during her family’s affiliation with Jimmy Swaggart Ministries and its youth program in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.
Over the course of this blog’s eight-plus year existence, we’ve come across people we’ve interviewed who have the material they present extremely well-organized. Corey delaHoussaye and C. J. Matthews come immediately come to mind.
Soon after we published our feature on our back-handed endorsement of Jeff Landry for Governor, we were contacted by someone who takes the championship trophy for being organized. Her name is Brandi Melissa, and she contacted us soon after seeing our just-linked feature with particular intrigue on our reference to candidate Hunter Lundy. Specifically, Melissa was stunned to see that we were the first to bring up the fact that Lundy was the attorney representing the late-evangelist Marvin Gorman, who sued Baton Rouge televangelist Jimmy Swaggart for $90 million for defamation. As Sound Off Louisiana founder Robert Burns stated on the video on that feature, “It was that trial which put Hunter Lundy on the map!”
We want to be even more blunt than that! Absent the world-wide notoriety Lundy obtained from suing Swaggart, he likely would remain a small-time, ambulance-chasing, slip-and-fall-grocery-store-hovering no name attorney in a small Lake Charles office. Even Lundy himself readily admits that it was Swaggart who put Lundy on the map.
For those too young to remember (and we’re going to try to keep this narrative as brief as possible because there are web pages all over creation on just what all took place), here’s a quick rundown of the happenings between Swaggart and Gorman:
— July 15, 1986: Swaggart calls Gorman, a rising star in the evangelistic world who posed a direct threat to the undisputed king of that arena (Swaggart), to his Highland Road Mansion and confronts him entailing an extra-marital affair Gorman had with a member of his congregation in New Orleans.
— Swaggart, accompanied by numerous associates reinforcing his demand, insists that Gorman report himself to Assemblies of Gods (AOG) Headquarters in Springfield, Missouri and agree to undergo rehabilitation. Gorman does so and loses his credentials as an AOG ordained Minister.
— Early to mid 1987: The Jim and Tammy Faye Bakker’s Ministry, Praise the Lord (PTL), in North Carolina collapses in spectacular fashion when AOG officials receive a credible report of Bakker having an affair with church secretary Jessica Hahn and that $279,000 was paid to Hahn (about $725,000 in today’s money) via ministry hush money for her to keep quiet about it. Hahn, a 28-year-old knockout, was also reportedly paid $1 million ($2.6 million in today’s dollars) to pose for a Playboy centerfold. Bakker’s Ministry also committed fraud in overselling “partnerships” entailing followers being able to spend nights at its famed theme park and hotel, Heritage USA. Bakker accused Swaggart of attempting a “hostile takeover” (they were all the rage of corporate America back then with financing typically being comprised of Michael Milken’s “junk bonds,” something Donald Trump was very, very fond of) of his Ministry, a claim Swaggart vehemently denied in stating, “Nowhere in the bible do I see where a preacher should be in the amusement park business.” Swaggart did admit, however, that he would have keen interest in Bakker’s extensive television outreach to help further his own mission of, “spreading of the Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ.” Bakker was subsequently sentenced to Federal prison but released after a few years and actually still pitches various “doomsday products” deemed required to survive the catastrophes he foresees coming upon all of humanity (no doubt as a “message from God.”)
— On or about Summer, 1987 (or perhaps even before): Marvin Gorman’s son, a Sheriff’s Deputy, is told by prostitute Debra Murphree, whom he dealt with on a regular basis, “You know I’m dating Jimmy Swaggart.” Gorman’s son thought she was nuts but, when she kept persisting that she was in fact, “dating Jimmy Swaggart,” he decided there was nothing to lose in setting up a sting (he was obviously far more effective at stings than the bone-headed idiot deputies working for Ascension Parish Sheriff Bobby “this will all just be a week in the newspaper” Webre)!
— October 16, 1987: Gorman’s son obtains damning photos of Swaggart (though he tried to disguise himself somewhat in a tennis outfit with the headband to match) exiting Murphree’s run-down, seedy, by-the-hour, motel room in the red light district on Airline Highway in Metairie (the motel has since been torn down). To buy time for his father to arrive, Gorman’s son lets the air out of Swaggart’s right rear tire. Swaggart, perhaps not even as mechanically inclined as Sound Off’s Burns, attempts to change the tire and actually places the rim on backwards until he uncovered it wouldn’t work that way in tightening the lug nuts (though that may have been from sheer nervousness). Gorman arrives on the scene and says, “Jimmy Swaggart!” Swaggart responds, “Marvin, what are you doing here?” Gorman responds with, “No, I think the more interesting question is what are YOU doing here?”
— A subsequent private meeting between Swaggart, his wife Frances, and Gorman transpires during which Gorman alleges Swaggart offered Gorman a lucrative position at his Ministry. According to Gorman, Swaggart’s wife, Frances, had one singular focus: convincing Gorman to drop a civil lawsuit against Swaggart (more on that shortly). Gorman alleges that he rebuffed Swaggart’s proposal and instead informed Swaggart that he was giving him three (3) months to self-report to AOG just as Swaggart had demanded Gorman do at that infamous July 15, 1986 meeting. Swaggart declined to do so (obviously not knowing Gorman had the incriminating photos), so Gorman turned the photos over to AOG National Officials, who ultimately directed Swaggart to step down for one year and, in a crushing blow, insisted that he could not air historical crusade services during that one-year period. The Louisiana Assemblies of God attempted to flex what little muscle it had and stated that three months was sufficient. Swaggart agreed to serve the three-month hiatus, but ultimately he, his son, Donnie, and other officials at Jimmy Swaggart Ministries surrendered their credentials with Swaggart becoming non-denominational and declaring in the famous, “I have sinned against you My Lord,” service at his Baton Rouge Church, Family Worship Center, that, “For those who have asked, ‘will the Ministry continue?,’ yes, the Ministry will continue!”
Okay. That provides the backdrop to lead up to the point that Melissa, then a young child, was exposed to witnessing first-hand (along with her late mother) the abuse of her two older brothers at the hands of a child sexual predator, Todd Michael Duquette, at a time when Duquette was deemed by Jimmy Swaggart Ministries to be a very valued member of its youth program. He was also a student at Jimmy Swaggart Bible College, which was renamed World Evangelism Fellowship in the immediate aftermath of the Murphree prostitute scandal, and the Bible College valued every single student it could have because the college became a ghost college in the aftermath of the scandal (with reports of total enrollment approaching the teens – as in below 20). For those who may not be aware, Swaggart was again caught by law enforcement in Indio, California on or around October 12, 1991 soliciting another prostitute, Rosemary Garcia, only two days after his anniversary celebration with his wife, Frances, on October 10, 1991. After that encounter, the late-Clyde Fuller, a major trucking operator out of Chattanooga, Tennessee, whom the Swaggarts relied upon for guidance and who was a major contributor to the Ministry, reportedly told Frances, “Well, the first thing you’re going to have to do is shut down the bible college.” That reportedly caused Frances Swaggart to immediately faint upon hearing Fuller’s words. At any rate, although his son, Donnie, told the Baton Rouge congregation that Swaggart would, “step down for a period,” Swaggart, after having driven by himself straight from California to Baton Rouge without stopping for anything other than gas or to use restrooms (and indicating that, “If I didn’t fear going to Hell, I’d have pulled the car right in front of an oncoming 18-wheeler,”) quickly reversed his son’s declaration and stated that he would not be stepping down at all and further stating to his congregation and the local media that details of his encounter with Garcia, “are flat none of your business!”
Perhaps Swaggart visited with Garcia in sheer frustration of the fact that, on September 10, 1991 (a mere 32 days prior to his encounter with prostitute Garcia), Gorman, who’d filed a defamation suit against Swaggart years earlier (Gorman claimed for Swaggart going after the Ministerial credentials of his children) obtained a $10 million civil judgment from a New Orleans jury. The case had previously been dismissed at the trial court level due to an alleged violation of Swaggart’s First Amendment rights; however, Gorman kept the damning photos a secret even from his own lawyer (Lundy). The day before appeal court arguments, the existence of the damning photos was revealed and plastered to media outlets literally all over the world. That act by Gorman threw the appeal oral arguments into disarray, and Gubernatorial candidate Hunter Lundy was by then well on his way to celebrity stardom as the attorney who took down the mighty Rev. Jimmy Lee Swaggart. Subsequently at a civil trial, the jury awarded Gorman $10 million in damages. The case was ultimately settled out of court for $1.85 million (approximately $4.8 million today’s dollars), likely resulting in about a $600,000 or so payday for Lundy (approximately $1.5 million in today’s dollars). Not only did Lundy profit handsomely from the Swaggart civil trial, but he also published “Let Us Prey“ entailing the whole scandal. Approximately 13 years later, sometime in 2004, Lundy noticed that Gorman was preaching at a venue only an hour away. Lundy, who graduated from the Christian School Millsaps College in Jackson, Mississippi, decided he wanted to attend. Lundy would describe the service as a “transformative moment,” after which he became “close friends” with Gorman and, in 2009, Gorman ordained Lundy (perhaps ironic since Gorman himself, along with Swaggart, had both been defrocked by AOG) to preach the Gospel.
With all of that as the background (and we tried to condense it as best we could), let us now present Melissa’s frustration not only at debate moderators’ unwillingness to pose a question pertaining to Lundy’s representation of Gorman, but also her frustration at the fact that the State of Louisiana failed to inform her that Duquette was released from prison until two days after he was released rather than the 60-day advanced notice she was supposed to obtain. She also expresses her desires for every member at the debate on Thursday, September 28, 2023 to address strengthening the prosecution of child predators and being forced to serve out their sentences. Here’s our interview with Melissa:
September 25, 2023: Brandi Melissa covers her trauma and that of her family at the hands of Jimmy Swaggart Ministries’ Bible College student Todd Michael Duquette at Jimmy Swaggart Ministries in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.
Now let’s provide all of the material (historical articles from The Advocate archives as well as features from WBRZ’s Investigative Unit with Chris Nakamoto et. al. and her own personal testimony before a Louisiana State Senate Committee which Melissa provided to us as part of this feature). Here they are:
First, from The Advocate archives:
Man accused of sex crimes with juveniles
Publication date: 6/3/1993 Page: 1-B; S Section: NEWS Edition:
Sheriff’s deputies arrested a former student from Jimmy Swaggart Bible College and accused him Wednesday of sex crimes involving juveniles, an East Baton Rouge Sheriff’s Office spokesman said. Todd Michael Duquette, 27, of 8686 Coy Ave., Apt. No. 5, was booked on 49 counts stemming from acts he allegedly performed with five boys between 8 and 12 years old, Lt. Col. Mike Barnett said. The acts allegedly occurred between last summer and last month, when the boys spent nights at the suspect’s house, Barnett said. Duquette is a friend of the boys’ parents, Barnett said. Deputies booked Duquette with 17 counts of indecent behavior with a juvenile, 20 counts of oral sexual battery, four counts of aggravated crime against nature and eight counts of sexual battery, booking records show. Duquette remained in Parish Prison Wednesday with bond set at$2,500, a prison spokesman said. A spokeswoman at Swaggart’s Bible college, now called World Evangelism Bible College and Seminary, confirmed that Duquette attended the school. However, Linda Westbrook did not know when Duquette was a student there, she said.
Ex-Swaggart Bible student admits molesting five boys
Publication date: 2/12/1994 Page: 7-C S Section: NEWS Edition:
A former student at the Jimmy Swaggart Bible College accused of engaging in sexual misconduct with young boys pleaded guilty Friday to multiple counts of indecent behavior with a juvenile. Todd Michael Duquette, 27, of 8686 Coy Ave., was accused of inappropriate sexual behavior with five boys aged 8-12, according to Assistant District Attorney Sue Bernie. The incidents occurred between June 1992 and May 1993 when the victims spent the night at Duquette’s house, authorities said. Duquette was a friend of the boys’ parents. Duquette was booked last June with a total of 49 counts of indecent behavior with a juvenile and other charges. He pleaded guilty to four counts of indecent behavior as well as one count of oral sexual battery, Bernie said. State District Judge Mike Erwin ordered a presentence investigation and scheduled sentencing for May 19. Duquette faces maximum prison sentences of seven years on each of the indecent behavior charges and 15 years for oral sexual battery.
CRIMINAL COURT RECORDS
Publication date: 8/31/1994 Page: 6-C; S Section: NEWS Edition:
July 28, 1994
The following felony and DWI trials, pleas, sentencings, fine hearings and bench warrants were handled in the Criminal Sections of the 19th Judicial District Court on July 28, 1994 (reassignments, motions, arraignments, traffic and other misdemeanors not included):
Section III – Todd Michael DuQuette, Count I: four counts of indecent behavior with a juvenile; Count II: oral sexual battery. Pleaded guilty. Court sentenced DuQuette to five years at hard labor on each count consecutive as to Count I. Count II: serve 10 years at hard labor, consecutive with Count I, with credit for time served. Court suspended sentence and placed DuQuette on active, supervised probation for five years on each count, concurrent, with special conditions: refrain from criminal conduct; Teen Challenge in Michigan; have no unsupervised contact with teens.
Sex offender jailed over notification law *** Ex-Bible student to enter rehabilitation program
Publication date: 11/15/1994 Page: 9-A;S Section: NEWS Edition:
Byline: TIM TALLEY
A convicted sex offender who ignored a requirement to notify neighbors and school officials was sent to the Parish Prison on Monday until he is transferred to a rehabilitation center in Michigan. “You’re going from the Sheriff’s Office to the bus station,” state District Judge Mike Erwin said during a brief probation review hearing for Todd Michael Duquette, 28, of 8845 Coy, No. 10. Erwin scheduled the hearing for Duquette last week after a television news report disclosed that he had violated the state’s Sex Offender Notification Law since he was placed on probation in July. As a condition of his probation, Duquette was ordered to enroll in a rehabilitation program in Flint, Mich., known as “Teen Challenge,” his court-appointed defense attorney, Randy Buckley, said. But the deadline for entering the program was extended informally while Duquette worked to raise money for a bus ticket, he said. In addition, Duquette did not report his conviction. The Sex Offender Notification Law requires a defendant convicted of certain sex crimes involving victims under 18 to report his name, his address and the nature of the crime to the local school superintendent and to residents within a three-square block area of his home. Erwin said Duquette was told to comply with the law, but that information was excluded from the official record of his sentencing. “He knew what it was,” Erwin said during the hearing. “He got around it for a little while, but he won’t get around it anymore.” Duquette, a former student at the Jimmy Swaggart Bible College, was accused of engaging in sexual misconduct with young boys. He pleaded guilty to four counts of indecent behavior with a juvenile and one count of oral sexual battery, according to Assistant District Attorney Sue Bernie. Erwin sentenced Duquette to a total of 30 years in prison but suspended the sentence and placed him on active supervised probation for a total of five years, according to court records. Conditions of his probation include participation in the Michigan rehabilitation program and refraining from unsupervised contact with teens, the records indicate.
And now for all of the recent WBRZ Investigative Features:
And now for her own personal testimony:
Melissa also has a bit to chime in on regarding the Louisiana Secretary of State’s race and one of the candidates, Brandon Trosclair. Let’s take a look:
For those who may not know, Trosclair is one of those “conspiracy theorists” who believes that Louisiana elections have been ripe with fraud and wants the state to resort to paper ballots as a means to “safeguard” its election results. He’s following a much broader “outreach” in that regard in which Donnie Swaggart, Jimmy’s son, openly seeks for persons attending his church meetings across the nation to purchase famed Mike Lindell (yeah, the pillow guy)’s book. At any rate, with the last poll we saw showing Trosclair at about two percent, we don’t think many folk are going to have to sweat him being Louisiana’s next Secretary of State.
Also, Melissa makes reference to a bond reduction hearing for former Catholic Priest Lawrence Heckler. Here’s the link for that WWL feature by David Hammer.
For those with YouTube accounts, feel free to subscribe to Melissa’s YouTube videos here.
We look forward to Thursday night’s debate and, more specifically, as to whether the LPB moderators will ask a question directed at the candidates entailing laws to ensure more forceful enforcement of sentencing and serving out of those sentences when it comes to violating young children. As Melissa makes abundantly clear in our video interview above, contrary to Ascension Parish Bobby “it will only be a week in the newspaper,” Webre, the fallout for the victims of such predators is extremely traumatic, and it’s lifelong!
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