Dennis Mischler, a retired teacher and former Boy Scout leader, took the stand Thursday at his trial in 22nd Judicial District Court in Covington, adamantly denying that he ever molested young boys or bought child pornography.
The 65-year-old Covington resident faces two charges of oral sexual battery of a juvenile, one charge of molestation of a juvenile and numerous counts of possession of child pornography.
Under questioning from his lawyer, Rachel Yazbeck, Mischler described his accusers as people he was close to and loved but who often came to him for money.
He denied making purchases of child pornography from a Canadian company, which was the genesis of law enforcement focus on him. He insisted that many family members and their friends had access to his homes in New Orleans and later in Covington and that for years he never even had password protection on his computer.
He said he had never heard of the Canadian company until police arrived at his door with a search warrant in May 2014.
He denied previous accusations that he touched a child inappropriately while he was a teacher, saying that he had been cleared of that charge in an earlier court proceeding. He also denied that he touched a boy inappropriately while staying with a family in Arkansas after Hurricane Katrina.
He also suggested that an accusation by a Florida man who said that Mischler had taken his hand when he was a boy and put it on Mischler's penis while at a Boy Scout camp was made because the Scout was angry at him. He said he had caught the boy in a similar situation with another staff member who was fired. Mischler said he was not charged with any crime in that case or others.
He vigorously denied the charges of oral sexual battery and molestation against the now 25-year-old man who was the alleged victim.
"I wouldn't do that. My family means everything to me, everything, and they were like my grandchildren. ... I would rather die than hurt them," he said.
Mischler's testimony followed that of several witnesses who said he victimized them, including members of his extended family who lived with him at different times.
One, who is now 50, testified Thursday that Mischler first touched him inappropriately when he was only 3. He said the abuse escalated when his family, who often faced eviction, moved in with Mischler in New Orleans. From the ages of 4 to 13, the man testified, he was abused two or three times a week. Mischler usually forced him to perform oral sex, but the abuse also included anal intercourse, he said.
Assistant District Attorney Bruce Dearing asked the witness to describe how it felt felt when Mischler violated him. After a long pause, the witness said, "Painful." Dearing asked if the pain was physical or emotional. "Both," he said.
Dearing asked if Mischler said anything when he was engaged in the sexual activity. The witness replied, "One thing he said was, 'I want to hear you moan. I love when I hear you moan.' "
The witness said he did not disclose the abuse until he was an adult and told his first wife, who insisted that Mischler should be the one to pay for his therapy.
He testified that the couple met at a restaurant in New Orleans and that Mischler admitted to his actions. "He was apologetic," the witness said. "He explained that it was his way of showing love, the only way he understood to show love."
Three days later, the witness said, he picked up a check from Mischler at the Orleans Parish School Board office.
But Mischler portrayed his relationship with his accusers differently, saying that they often asked him for money and that the alleged victim whom he is accused of molesting sometimes stole from him.
He recalled having lunch at the restaurant but said neither the man nor his wife accused him of anything. Instead, he said, they asked to borrow money.