An Orleans Parish jury deadlocked Tuesday after a weeklong trial on a sexual molestation charge against the Rev. Kevin Boyd Sr., founder of the Church at New Orleans on Chef Menteur Highway.
The six-member jury deliberated for about three hours before telling Criminal District Court Judge Camille Buras it was hopelessly split on the single count of recurring molestation.
A 28-year-old man — Boyd’s godson and a childhood member of his flock — had accused the pastor of molesting him from the age of 11 or 12 until his late teens. Boyd and the man’s mother were close childhood friends, and he said he often slept at Boyd’s house.
The man said Boyd, 46, would regularly molest him there and at his church office, in an escalating pattern that began with wrestling and included halting, painful attempts at anal sex.
The pastor, he said, would lay out pillows or clean towels to prepare for what became a ritual act that often occurred while the boy’s mother worked the night shift at Wal-Mart.
The New Orleans Advocate does not name victims of sexual assault.
Boyd’s followers filled the courtroom pews behind him in support. Another backer, convicted former Orleans Parish School Board member Ira Thomas, joined the group in the courthouse hallway while the jury deliberated.
Earlier, defense attorney Kerry Cuccia argued that Boyd’s accuser was put up to the allegations by another pastor, the Rev. Lionel Traylor, who had split from Boyd after a dispute over spending at a church that Boyd built in Jackson, Mississippi.
Cuccia argued that Boyd’s accuser fell under Traylor’s influence and that Traylor engineered a pair of civil lawsuits on behalf of Boyd’s accuser in both states, including a federal suit in Louisiana. At its core, Cuccia suggested, the allegations were a money grab.
Taking the witness stand Monday, Boyd dismissed the allegations as lies. He also rebuffed similar allegations that another witness, an older man, lodged from the witness stand last week.
Buras set a Dec. 15 date for Boyd to return to court, possibly to face a new trial date. He still faces another molestation charge based on the other man’s allegations.
Boyd’s accuser in the trial this week came forward in 2010 to describe a pattern of sexual advances that he said began more than a decade earlier.
“He had a breaking point, and thank God he did,” Assistant District Attorney Diana Netterville told the jury. “This individual, Kevin Boyd, is a fake. He’s been hiding behind this mask of being a preacher, of being a pastor. He is neither one of those things. He’s a predator. He preyed on the innocence of his congregation, and he didn’t stop there. He preyed on the innocence of their children.”
Cuccia homed in on details of the accuser’s account, and particularly a claim that Boyd molested him again as a 19- or 20-year-old at Traylor’s home in Jackson after Hurricane Katrina. In that case, the man said, Boyd lifted him from the top bunk of a bed “as if I’m a baby,” laid him down and sexually assaulted him.
Even then he kept it quiet, he said.
“Who would believe me? Who would believe the bishop would do something like that?” he said.
Cuccia called the account “preposterous.”
“After (the accuser) has broken free, is it reasonable to believe (he) would walk right back into the situation?” Cuccia argued. “He walked back into what he now tells you was a nightmare?”
The jury couldn’t decide.
Follow John Simerman on Twitter, @johnsimerman.