In 1984, fame found Jody Plauché in the worst way.
Local headlines had reported his sexual molestation and kidnapping by his karate coach. When his father shot his accused abuser in front of TV cameras, he became national news.
Plauché is now using those haunting memories to help keep other kids safe.
He has written “Why Gary Why?” It's a detailed account of the events from 35 years ago and tells what parents should do to protect their children.
The title references what a law enforcement officer said when his father, Gary Plauché, gunned down Jeff Doucet in Baton Rouge Metro Airport as officers were bringing him back to the area to face criminal charges.
If Jody Plauché, now 47, wanted to forget all that, he couldn’t. Even when he indulges his culinary hobby, it comes up.
“I’ll post a cooking video on YouTube, and someone will comment, ‘Your dad’s a hero,’” he said. “They won’t comment, ‘That gumbo looks great.’ They’ll just be, like, ‘Your dad’s a hero.’”
Plauché was 10 when he started taking karate lessons from Doucet, who became, in the young boy's mind, his best friend.
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“It was over several months before he ever started to do anything, and he had already been testing the boundaries,” Plauché said. “He had begun the grooming process, not just on me but my family. Pedophiles are very good at what they do. One of the things they’ll do with the grooming is test the child’s boundaries.
“Jeff would go, ‘We need to stretch,’ so he’d be touching around my legs. That way, if he grabbed my private area, he could say, ‘It was an accident; we were just trying to stretch.’ Or, if we were driving a car, he’d put his hand in my lap and might go, ‘Oh, I didn’t mean to. I didn’t realize my hands were there.’ That’s that slow, gradual seduction.”
Eventually, the molestation began.
“I left a lot of stuff out,” Plauché said of his book. “My mother was, like, ‘Why don’t you put more details in there?’ I have to dance a fine line between triggering a victim who might be reading the book and having to put the book down, and a pedophile reading the book like Penthouse Forum: ‘Oh, this is great.’ I didn’t need to go into explicit details or the grossest, nasty stuff. It’s enough that you get the point.
“I think one of the things people really don’t understand is why I didn’t tell (then). … One, I was 10. Two, what was happening I knew would upset my parents. Three, at the time, I didn’t want him to get in trouble. It was easier for me to keep quiet and shut up than to upset everybody.”
They would be plenty upset after Feb. 19, 1984, when Doucet drove Plauché, then 11, to a relative’s house in Port Arthur, Texas, and on to Los Angeles by bus. They stayed there for about a week until police caught them.
Plauché was quickly brought home. Two East Baton Rouge Parish sheriff’s officers flew to California to bring Doucet back.
Plauché’s father, Gary, learned when Doucet would arrive from someone at WBRZ and, in sunglasses and a baseball cap, went to the airport and waited.
As officers escorted the handcuffed Doucet, Gary Plauché stepped up and fired his pistol point blank into Doucet’s right ear, killing him. Doucet was 25.
Gary Plauché pleaded no contest to a manslaughter charge and was sentenced to five years of probation. He was given a suspended seven-year sentence and did not serve any jail time. He died in 2014.
“After the shooting happened, I was very upset with what my father did,” Jody Plauché said. “I did not want Jeff killed. I felt like he was going to go to jail, and that was enough for me.
"But my parents, they didn’t force me into recovery. They kind of let me recover at my own pace, and it took a while … but I was able to work through it and eventually accept my dad back in my life, and we kind of went back to normal.”
In contrast to his father, Plauché’s mother, June, kept calm as he told her what happened, and that helped him recover, he said.
Plauché went on to LSU, getting a general studies degree with minors in philosophy, speech communication and psychology, which led to a job in Pennsylvania as a sexual assault counselor for seven years. Most people there didn’t know his background.
“It was nice,” he said.
However, he wanted to tell his story. In 1993, he wrote a 27,000-word manuscript but didn't publish it.
Returning to Baton Rouge in 2005 after his father suffered a stroke, Plauché worked for his brother’s company, Cody’s Transportation. Three years after his father's death, a friend convinced Plauché to write his story.
“I wanted to give victims hope,” he said. “I wanted to give parents knowledge, and I wanted outsiders to get a general understanding about sexual violence and sexual abuse. … I’ve had parents message me and say, ‘I just finished your book. I learned so much. There’s a lot of things I never would have thought of.’”
Plauché urges parents to be involved with their children and be wary of an adult — including a family member or close friend — who pays an unusual amount of attention to a child.
“If someone wants to spend more time with your kids than you do, that’s a red flag,” he said.
The book doesn’t sugarcoat Plauche’s experience, and it includes profanity that Plauché said reflects the language he and others used at the time.
"Why Gary Why?" is sold at Amazon.com and at Chris' Specialty Meats in Baton Rouge and Prairieville.
“It is what it is,” he said. “I’ve embraced who I am and what I’ve gone through. That’s why I wrote the book. Again, it’s not about me or what Daddy did. It’s about educating and helping other people.”