Founder of Ecclesia Assn, Where Girl Beaten To Death in 1988, Dies At 39
SANDY, Ore. (AP) _ Eldridge Broussard, the controversial founder of the self-help group Ecclesia Athletic Association, was found dead early today in the same house where his daughter was beaten to death three years ago, authorities said.
Broussard, 39, appeared to have died alone and of natural causes in the house near Sandy in Clackamas County, but an autopsy was pending, said sheriff’s deputy Peter Tutmark.
″There was no evidence of violence,″ Tutmark said.
Friends found the body shortly before 3 a.m., Tutmark said. Ecclesia formerly used the house as its Oregon base of operations.
Broussard, a former basketball star at Pacific University in Forest Grove, founded Ecclesia in 1975 in Los Angeles. The organization was intended to lift children out of the dead-end ghetto life through athletic training and strict discipline.
The group at one time had dozens of children from Los Angeles in the house near Sandy.
But in October 1988, four Ecclesia staff members took Dayna Broussard’s body to a fire station near the house.
Four adult Ecclesia members eventually were convicted of manslaughter in her death. Several children testified at the trial that they were systematically beaten as part of the group’s discipline.
Another Ecclesia adult was convicted of criminal mistreatment in connection with other beatings of children.
Broussard did not face state charges in connection with the death, but he and seven followers faced a 30-count federal indictment alleging that they held 29 children in slavery and conspired to deny their civil rights.
The federal indictment, returned earlier this year, alleges that Dayna’s death resulted from the conspiracy.
Fifty-three Ecclesia children were taken into state custody after the child’s death.
The group came to Oregon from the Watts area of Los Angeles in the summer of 1987. It announced plans to cultivate crops and train children for Olympic competition.
But after suspicions about his treatment of the children mounted, he held a series of angry meetings with reporters and charged they were distorting Ecclesia’s goals.
In recent years, Broussard had become reclusive, avoiding public appearances.