A Metairie man was convicted Friday night (March 4) of sexually abusing a girl over a 4-year period, starting when she was 8 years old.
Simon Shokr, 44, faces a mandatory life sentence in prison for his conviction of aggravated rape, sexual battery and indecent behavior with a juvenile.
The victim, who is now 16, is not being identified. The abuse began in 2008, when she was a student at a Metairie elementary school. Shokr, who was acquainted the child’s family, abused the girl without her mother’s knowledge, telling the child to tell no one.
“She didn’t tell for a very long time,” Assistant District Attorney Rachel Africk, who prosecuted with Assistant District Attorney Lynn Schiffman, told the Jefferson Parish jury in opening statements on Thursday.
An assistant principal at her elementary school described the girl as “one of our go-to students,” saying she was “very respectful” to teachers and was assigned to the safety patrol to help younger students.
“At a point in the fifth grade, there was a drastic change in her behavior and demeanor,” the assistant principal testified. “She went from a go-to student to a student who had to be disciplined. She had never been disciplined before. … It was a life change. It was drastic. It was huge.”
The child would not talk about what led to her behavioral changes, so the assistant principal said she alerted teachers to watch for her to determine whether she was bullied. The assistant principal also said she contacted the child’s mother, asking her to be vigilant in watching her.
The girl remained quiet about the abuse until she reached high school, where she disclosed it to two classmates, prosecutors said. Those students told a teacher, who had a mandatory obligation to report the allegation. That led to the investigation by the state and the Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office.
Shokr, a businessman and native of Beirut, Lebanon who immigrated to the United States in 1989, denied the accusations. He asserted the girl fabricated the story because of upheaval in her family.