Murdered girl’s mother convicted of abuse

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, October 14, 2003

LIBERTY &045; After deliberating for 30 minutes at the end of a two-day trial in Amite County, jurors Wednesday found Jennifer Bordelon guilty of felonious child abuse in connection with the murder of her 12 year-old daughter, Courtney LeBlanc.

Following the verdict, Sixth Circuit Judge Forrest A. Johnson surprised many in the courtroom by sentencing the defendant to a suspended five-year term with five years probation. Felonious child abuse carries a maximum sentence of 20 years.

&uot;There are some mothers, like yourself, who are mothers in name only Š I could send you to prison, but that would not make a mother out of you,&uot; Johnson told the defendant.

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Courtney’s stepfather, four-time convicted sex offender Gerald &uot;Jimmy&uot; Bordelon, has been charged in Louisiana with kidnapping and murdering Courtney last November.

Testifying in her own defense, Jennifer Bordelon said she met Gerald Bordelon via the Iinternet and began dating him in late 2000. She said a Louisiana parole officer informed her of Gerald Bordelon’s criminal history as early as January 2001. &uot;His (Gerald’s) sister told me all that wasn’t true Š That it was all a misunderstanding,&uot; she said.

The couple continued dating and were married in July of 2001. Gerald Bordelon’s Louisiana parole supervision was later transferred to Mississippi and the family moved to Gloster in October of 2001.

Prosecutors said although she knew of Gerald Bordelon’s criminal history and despite Courtney’s allegations that he molested her on Dec. 26, 2001, Jennifer Bordelon failed to protect her daughter.

Jennifer Bordelon testified she reported Courtney’s allegations against Gerald Bordelon to the Mississippi Department of Human Services and took her daughter to an interview at the Child Advocacy Center in Jackson.

But District Attorney Ronnie Harper said even though the CAC interviewer described Courtney’s allegations as &uot;reliable&uot; and DHS workers warned her to prevent any further contact between Gerald Bordelon and her children, Jennifer Bordelon failed to heed that advice.

&uot;Would a reasonable mother take her kids back out there?

That’s not reasonable,&uot; Harper said.

Harper said in the summer of 2002 Jennifer Bordelon returned to Louisiana, preventing further intervention from DHS officials in Mississippi.

Jennifer Bordelon argued that her family lived in Louisiana and she had nowhere to go in Mississippi.

However, prosecutors said Jennifer Bordelon took no steps to conceal her whereabouts from Gerald Bordelon and continued contact with him.

Courtney was reported missing from her Denham Springs, La. home on November 14, 2002.

After a highly publicized 11-day search, Gerald Bordelon led detectives to the girl’s partially-clad body on the west bank of the Amite River in East Baton Rouge Parish.

Gerald Bordelon allegedly confessed to kidnapping Courtney and driving her to Amite County where he forced her to perform oral sex.

Officials say he then drove back to Louisiana and strangled Courtney.

Gerald Bordelon has pleaded not guilty and not guilty by reason of insanity.

&uot;There was a lot more that Jennifer Bordelon could have done, but she chose not to,&uot; Assistant District Attorney Debra Blackwell said.

Johnson echoed those sentiments in sentencing Jennifer Bordelon.

&uot;If you had one ounce of mother in you, you would have sided with Courtney instead of Gerald Bordelon.

I hope the rest of your days are filled with thoughts of how you let that real-life monster in her life,&uot; Johnson said.

Describing the trial as one of the most &uot;unusual and difficult cases&uot; he has seen in his nine years on the bench, Johnson prohibited Jennifer Bordelon from contacting Gerald Bordelon during her probation and required her to write a 200-word letter of apology to Courtney each year on the child’s birthday.

Those letters must be filed with the court.

After the trial, Harper was asked if he felt a victory had been won despite the fact that Jennifer Bordelon will not serve any prison time.

&uot;Absolutely. Justice was served in this case. Sentencing by our laws is entirely up to the judge. They (judges) continue to amaze me with their wisdom,&uot; he said.