GONZALES — The Rev. Irvin Briley Jr., a prominent Baptist minister in the Geismar community, was charged Monday with the molestation of a teenage girl over a three-year period ending in April, his indictment says.
A community figure for years in Ascension Parish, Briley was the president of the East Ascension Ministers' Alliance in 2016, its vice president in 2012 and gave the invocation during the swearing in ceremonies for Gonzales Mayor Barney Arceneaux in January 2017.
Briley, 64, 1017 S. Lexington Ave., Gonzales, also was for many years the pastor of First Pilgrim Calvary Missionary Baptist Church in Geismar. He temporarily stepped down about two months ago while waiting for the criminal investigation to be resolved, his attorney said.
Briley's church was formed from a contentious merger that led to litigation in the mid-2000s. It had as many as 450 members in 2014 when the church formed a food pantry and clothes closet for the poor out of a historic church building built in 1862.
The Ascension Parish grand jury handed up the indictment early Monday afternoon in Gonzales after following an investigation led by the Gonzales Police Department. Briley is charged with one of count of molestation of juvenile for more than a year, according to the bill.
The indictment says the molestation lasted from August 2016 to this past April, at a time when the alleged victim was in her early teens. Law enforcement officials said the teen is a juvenile girl.
Briley, who hadn't been arrested early Monday afternoon, referred all questions to his attorney, Travis Turner. Turner said his client denies the allegation but plans to surrender himself to authorities.
Turner said Gonzales police detectives interviewed Briley one to two days after he had left a hospital intensive care unit with traumatic brain injuries. He was injured in an attack and attempted robbery inside his home, his attorney said.
Turner said Briley nearly died from injuries for which he is still being treated and didn't comprehend what he was being asked or what he was saying at the time. Turner said the statement that Briley gave detectives will be challenged in court.
"We fully expect the Rev. Briley to be exonerated from these charges," Turner said.
Gonzales Police Lt. Steve Nethken said Monday that they are expecting Briley to turn himself in once paperwork from the grand jury is received.
Nethken declined to discuss details about the circumstances surrounding the molestation allegation, referring questions to the Louisiana State Attorney General's Office, which is prosecuting Briley.
In the late 2000s, Briley's church created a program to teach teens etiquette and manners, known as the Christian Cotillion Debutantes and Beaus.
A spokesman for the AG's Office couldn't immediately be reached Monday for comment on the case.
Turner said the AG's Office is handling the prosecution because 23rd Judicial District Attorney Ricky Babin's office is prosecuting the man accused of attacking Briley.