BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - The fate of a former Lafayette Catholic school gym teacher accused of taking inappropriate photos of young girls at a Baton Rouge water park is still up in the air after the judge declared a mistrial Wednesday.
Halfway through the bench trial of 42-year-old Duane Champagne, Judge Bonnie Jackson declared a mistrial because no victim's name was mentioned in the documentation. By law, a victim must be named. "Based on a defect in Bill of Information, our office tried to protect the name of the victim," said District Attorney Hillar Moore.
Defense attorney Kevin Stockstill argued the victims had no expectation of privacy at Blue Bayou, while the victims say Champagne had no permission to photograph them. Stockstill says the issue here centers on consent. "Our questions are focusing on where these people were when their photographs were taken," he said. "Making points that they are obviously in public places and they're clothed."
Duane Champagne is accused of taking the pictures at Blue Bayou Water Park in 2007. He was charged with video voyeurism. One grandmother says she knows the 42-year-old took pictures of her 12-year-old granddaughter from the waist down. Detectives say they found 101 pictures on Champagne's camera. "My main goal is to keep the children safe," said Janie Schane, the grandmother of one of the victims. "It takes all of us to keep the children safe."
While on the stand, Schane told the judge she can't imagine why someone would be okay with this man taking pictures of young girls' backsides. In fact, she says when she came face-to-face with the man, she told him it would take less than five minutes for her to teach him to never look at another child the way he looked at hers. Detectives say when they asked Champagne why he did it, he told them "because they were cute."
A new arraignment has been set for next Wednesday. The defense says it plans to plead not guilty.