A week after Dayton Leroy Rogers was convicted of the
Molalla Forest Murders, four members of the Ecclesia Athletic
Association were convicted, in the same courthouse, of first-degree
manslaughter in the beating death of Dayna Lorae Broussard, the
8-year-old daughter of Ecclesia founder Eldridge Broussard.
The victim was taken by Ecclesia adults to Rural Fire
District 71 in Clackamas at about midnight Oct. 13, 1988. Paramedics
were unable to revive her. Authorities later learned she was beaten
hundreds of times with a hose, a pipe and an electrical cord while other
Eldridge Broussard was not at the Ecclesia's Sandy
farmhouse where the beating occurred on the night of Oct. 13. But the
strict discipline that he preached as part of the Ecclesia credo
frequently resulted in child beatings. Eldridge Broussard himself was
frequently whipped and beaten by his father, a Pentecostal minister in
the Watts area of Los Angeles.
Originally, Broussard conceived the notion of forming a
group to help black and minority families survive in the impoverished
Watts neighborhood and to help young people steer away from drugs and
Broussard, who graduated from Pacific University in Forest Grove
and had a brief but unsuccessful tryout with the Portland Trail Blazers
professional basketball team, returned to Los Angeles in 1975 and began
conducting Bible studies with his father. One of his young students was Dayna Grant, who later became his wife and the mother of their five
children -- three boys and two girls.
Over the next five years, Broussard and his followers
would buy an abandoned Watts bakery building and convert it into the
Watts Christian Center. They also bought and renovated an old gymnasium
at nearby Will Rogers Park to help train youths for athletics. Broussard
had been attracting large crowds while preaching at Will Rogers Park.
After preaching his sermon, he would lead his congregation on a run
around the park for fun and exercise.
But Broussard was drifting away from his ministry by the
late 1970s and early 1980s and was focusing more attention on enriching
the bodies, rather than the souls, of his young followers. In 1982, he
founded the Ecclesia Athletic Association to, shape group members
through intense training and strict discipline so they could resist the
temptations of crime and drugs in Watts.
Broussard and his followers hoped to train young athletes
for the 1984 Olympic Games in Los Angeles and future Olympic Games. He
envisioned Ecclesiatype training programs developing elsewhere in the
United States and abroad.
Broussard's group never was endorsed by the Olympic
Organizing Committee, although it participated in peripheral
Olympic-type programs and events. In April 1987, Broussard and his
Ecclesia Athletic Association brought 70 to 100 men, women and children
to a Sandy-area farm in an attempt to establish an athletic training
camp. Neighbors immediately became suspicious about the group's
secretive nature and its regimented lifestyle.
About all the nearby neighbors knew of Ecclesia was what
they could see from a distance -- dozens of boys and girls running
through the countryside, doing rigorous calisthenics Or working the
land. Some of his neighbors complained Broussard and his followers were
rude and evasive about the group's intent.
Neighbors complained long and loud to the media, county
officials and just about everyone else who would listen.
Two months later, following extensive media coverage of
the controversial group and its training camp, Ecclesia officials closed
the athletic camp temporarily and several members returned to Los
Angeles. In July, 1987, Ecclesia withdrew its request to Clackamas
County for permission to set up tent shelters for 100 adults and
children at the commune.
But a year after abandoning their Sandy farmhouse
headquarters, Ecclesia retmed. For the most part, the group maintalned a
relatively low profile and little was heard of the Ecclesia Athletic
Association until the night of Oct. 13, 1988, when Dayna Broussard was
rushed to Fire District 71 headquarters.
Fifty-three children, some with scars on their backs,
subsequently were removed from the Sandy farmhouse by the state
Children's Services Division. About half of the children were returned
to their parents in Oregon. Several others are living with relatives in
Florida and California, and some remain in foster care in CSD custody in
Six Ecclesia adults were arrested in connection with
Dayna Broussard's death. In October 1988 -- after an extensive
investigation-- four of the six adults were indicted by a Clackamas
County Grand Jury of first-degree manslaughter.
During the exhaustive three-month trial that followed,
jurors heard testimony about other beatings and strict disciplinary
action against other Ecclesia children. The jury, on May 12, 1989,
convicted Willie K. Chambers, Brian J. Brinson, Constance Zipporah
Jackson and Frederick Paul Doolittle of first- degree manslaughter.
All four were sentenced to 20 years in prison by a
Clackamas County judge on June 23, 1989.
But the group's problems didn't end there. On April 5,
1990, a federal grand jury in Portland began investigating Ecclesia
leaders for possible civil rights violations. The investigation
culminated in the Feb. 8, 1991, arrest of Eldridge Broussard and three
of his followers on charges of holding Ecclesia children in slavery and
conspiring to deny them their civil rights.
Broussard and two others -- Carolyn Van Brunt and Josie
Ruth Faust -- were released Feb. 11, pending trial in federal court.
But Eldridge Broussard never made it to trial. The
38-year-old Ecclesia leader was found dead Sept. 5, 1991, in the same
Sandy farmhouse where his daughter had been beaten to death three years
earlier. A coroner's report indicated Broussard died of complications
related to his diabetes.
To the end, Broussard blamed the media and its
negative publicity about the Ecclesia Athletic Association for
contributing to his daughter's death and to the disintegration of his
Clakcamas County Sheriffs
The Death of Dayna
Frank Trippett, Alan Ota and John Snell/Portlan
October 31, 1988
Launched last year on a farm in Clackamas County,
Ore., the Ecclesia Athletic Association camp professed a wholesome
purpose. Founder Eldridge J. Broussard Jr., once a basketball star
at Pacific University, said Ecclesia, an outgrowth of the Watts
Christian Center in Los Angeles, would bring ghetto children into
the clean rural setting and train them through a disciplined program
In time, however, neighbors noticed that the children,
as one observer said, were "like zombies, never talking, never laughing."
The neighbors asked the Oregon children's services division to
investigate, but to no avail. Last week four adults came to the
Clackamas County firehouse with the body of an eight- year-old girl who
had died from multiple injuries to the head, chest and limbs. She was
Broussard's eight-year-old daughter Dayna.
Chastened authorities who inspected the two-story,
four-bedroom Ecclesia house discovered 53 other children, ages three
months to 16 years, living in Dickensian horror. Behind the building's
curtain covered windows, the children were kept in rooms strewn with
sleeping bags but no beds. There was only one working toilet, no
refrigerator, and the only food was some tomatoes and a head of lettuce.
The youngsters were malnourished, and most had bruises, welts and wounds.
"It was Lisa Steinberg times 50," said Bart Wilson, a manager of the
Oregon children's services division, alluding to the six-year-old New
York City girl beaten to death last year.
According to Donald Welch, director of the Clackamas
County juvenile - department, floggings were "systematic." Adult staff
members, he said, would deal out up to 800 blows with "paddle,
electrical cord or similar device," while other children looked on. Four
adults, including two who delivered the dead girl to the firehouse, were
charged with first-degree manslaughter and held in lieu of $250,000 bail.
The children were placed in the protective custody of juvenile
Broussard, 35, was in Los Angeles at the time but
returned to Oregon last week. After first refusing to comment on the
case, he later made a bizarre appearance on the nationally televised
Oprah Winfrey Show. Grinning and smiling, smirking and haranguing,
Broussard evaded all direct questions while blaming the death of his
daughter on "the media." His only display of emotion came when he broke
into tears as he complained about the media's treatment of him. His
program has been unfairly likened to a cult, he said, and he has been
called, in his own phrase, a "new Jim Jones." Broussard denied that
children in the house were beaten. They were merely "spanked," he said.
So far, only one parent of the Ecclesia children has
expressed a lack of confidence in Broussard or made any effort to return
them to their homes. Broussard himself has vowed to make an all-out
effort to regain custody of his young wards. Oregon officials are
expected to oppose his effort with equal adamancy.
Now, Neighbors Recall Doubts on
By Timothy Egan - The New York Times
October 20, 1988
When members of the Ecclesia Athletic
Association first moved to a farmhouse near here in the summer of
1987, a neighbor, Kenneth Teuscher, did what he could to assist
them in setting up their retreat for ghetto youngsters. He helped
them plant a garden and build a fence, even letting them use some
of the land on his cattle ranch for tents.
But, Mr. Teuscher recalled in an interview today, he
grew suspicious of the group when he saw pit bulls patrolling their 18
acres next to his ranch and found that the boys and girls would never
speak unless spoken to.
Now, in the wake of revelations of ritualistic
beatings, sparse food and a fatal flogging of an 8-year-old girl inside
the Ecclesia farmhouse, Mr. Teuscher is questioning why he never acted
on his suspicions. 'I Wish We'd Done Something'
''Right at first people around here were all pretty
open-minded about them but as time went on, we got suspicious,'' Mr.
Teuscher said. ''Now I wish we'd done something about it.''
On Friday, four adults from the farmhouse brought the
body of the dead girl, Dayna Lorae Broussard, to a Clackamas County
firehouse. Sheriff's officers arrested the four that night and charged
them with manslaughter and then went out to the farmhouse, where they
found 53 children who, they said, had been malnourished and beaten. The
children slept on the floor of the four-bedroom house, which had no
furniture and a single toilet, the deputies said in their report.
Little is known about the Ecclesia association, which
was an outgrowth of the Watts Christian Center in Los Angeles that was
founded in 1978. What is known is that both groups were founded and led
by Eldridge Broussard Jr., the dead girl's father, and that the Oregon
commune was billed as an athletic camp for ghetto youngsters.
In interviews today, some people in the area, about
30 miles east of Portland, said the discoveries at the farm have shaken
their belief in tolerance and in minding their own business. Others Have
Settled in Oregon
The Ecclesia group is not the first to set up a
commune in Oregon.
In the early 1980's, the followers of Indian guru
Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh took over the Oregon desert town of Antelope and
named the community Rajneeshpurum. They disbanded in 1985 after the
Federal Government accused their leaders of crimes ranging from
attempted murder to fraud and immigration violations.
Last spring, followers of the Indian guru, Sant
Thakar Singh, announced plans to set up a commune and school in the
Umpqua River Valley in southern Oregon. The plan has yet to win full
local government approval.
Although Mr. Broussard has strenuously denied that
his group is a cult, some of the residents here now say that papers
filed by the Ecclesia organization with Clackamas County in the summer
of 1987 should have tipped off authorities about the nature of the group.
Included in the papers was an application form for
prospective members of the group. On it, an applicant promises to ''put
all of my ambitions, desires, past and future commitments, relations,
expectation, gifts, and assets under the total control of Eldridge
Broussard Jr.'' Strict Scrutiny Permitted
The applicant also signs a statement certifying that
''all of my decisions -financial, social, recreational, educational,
dietary and any not mentioned above - must pass his scrutiny and obtain
''Coming on the heels of Rajneeshpurum, a lot of
families were concerned with this group,'' said Dominic Mancini,
Clackamas County planning director. ''But you can't deny somebody a land
use permit just because they're out of the mainstream. I guess
Oregonians have always felt somewhat independent and open to groups on
Those who have lived near the group's headquarters in
Watts spoke of initial concerns about the group but said these were soon
calmed. 'Kept to Themselves'
''They kept to themselves, but they always said hello,
were very friendly and the children always seemed very well behaved and
well kept,'' said Bonnie Bailey, a saleswoman at Bailey Realty next door
to the Ecclesia center.
Estelle Van Meter, the founder of Concerned Citizens
for Better Community, a senior citizens social service center located a
block from the Ecclesia building, said she was concerned about the
association's strong desire for privacy. But she said that was put to
rest by an open house and yard sale the group sponsored.
Ecclesia seemed to move out of Oregon in the late
summer of 1987. It withdrew its application for a summer youth camp and
most of the kids left. Mr. Broussard remained on the property with a few
other adults and two of his pit bulls, Mr. Teuscher said. The farmhouse
was empty until recently. Then neighbors began to notice late night
activity on the property, although they never saw the children doing any
The police and child welfare officials say they did
not know the property had been reopened until they were alerted to the
death of the girl on Friday.
Capt. Pat Detloff, chief of detectives for Clackamas
County, said that he thought law enforcement officials dealing with
Rajneeshpurum had left a clear message that cults that engage in
criminal acts would not be tolerated in Oregon.
''This makes me wonder,'' he said.
8 year old Dayna Broussard