A Louisiana districts court judge who previously denied making racist remarks about African-American courtroom employees now says she’s “sorry” after owning up to the offensive language.
In a Sunday interview with Baton Rouge’s WAFB, Assumption Parrish Judge Jesse LeBlanc came clean about using the N-word while referring to a Black law clerk and a sheriff’s deputy in her district. Her comments came during a “heated” text exchange with then-boyfriend and former chief deputy Capt. Bruce Prejean, according to the outlet.
The racist texts are just the latest admission from the embattled judge, who drew criticism after acknowledging a years-long affair with Prejean.
LeBlanc offered an apology in the weekend interview, saying: “I admit that I used that word. I profusely apologize for that. I should have never said it. It was uncalled for. I was angry. I was upset. But, it’s no excuse.”
Pressed by WAFB reporter Scottie Hunter on if she had ever used the slur before, LeBlanc struggled to give a straight answer.
“Not in a – no – not – no – not in a – no – I have not used that racial slur in the past,” she stammered. “This [was] in a moment of a heated exchange that was private between Bruce and I, that I never dreamed would have come out to the public.”
The messages in question were uncovered by Assumption Parish Sheriff Leland Falcon and taken from his former deputy’s phone, The Advocate reports. Falcon, who questioned Prejean about the texts himself, argued that photocopies of the exchange show LeBlanc useds the N-word while criticizing the Black courtroom workers.
One of the messages read: “At least I was NEVER unfaithful to you with ANYONE- much less a n—-r.” In a separate text, LeBlanc referred to one of her employees as a “thug n—-r.”
Falcon said copies of the messages weren’t altered, despite LeBlanc’s claims that they were, and said the sheriff’s office won’t conduct a forensic sweep of Prejean’s cell phone.
“The messages speak for themselves,” he told The Advocate, “… and when enjoined by all the facts available to us, all of which we’ve made available to the media, the texts speak loudly and there’s no question as to who sent them.”
LeBlanc acknowledged “lashing out” at her former lover after their affair ended last year. In the aftermath, she claims she received an anonymous package at her office containing Prejean’s phone records; highlighted was the phone number of another judge’s law clerk, leading her to believe that Prejean and that employee, who’s African-American, were also coupled up.
“In lashing out at him, in those text messages, I lashed out at two of his African-American friends,” she told WAFB. “One of them being that law clerk. I did call them that name. They don’t deserve that. They deserve an apology from me. And, I sincerely apologize to both of them for using that word.”
The state and Baton Rouge chapters of the NAACP have since called for LeBlanc’s immediate resignation. Eugene Collins, president of the Baton Rouge NAACP, argued the judge’s impartiality had been compromised, and threatened to lead protests demanding her removal if she doesn’t step down willingly.
“She should be removed from the bench,” Collins said.
Collins said she has no plans to resign and will run for re-election once her term ends in December.
In Sunday’s interview, LeBlanc insisted her remarks aren’t reflective of her personality, adding that she “has many African-American friends.”