On the morning after his 8-year-old victim testified against him, a former Metairie resident pleaded guilty as charged on Thursday (Aug. 11) to two counts of indecent behavior with a juvenile under age 13 in exchange for a 10-year prison sentence.
Eric Fontenelle, 53, who more recently resided in Abita Springs, also will have to register as a sex offender for the rest of his life after he is released from prison, 24th Judicial District Court Judge Glenn Ansardi ordered in accepting the negotiated plea agreement.
Fontenelle admitted that he inappropriately touched the then 7-year-old girl near her genital area outside her clothing on Oct. 5 and again on Oct. 6 in a Metairie home. Afterward, he told her, “If you tell anybody about this, I’m going to spank you,” prosecutors told the Jefferson Parish jury.
The victim disclosed Fontenelle’s behavior to her stepfather on Oct. 19, leading the family to notify the Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office. The child repeated her description of what happened to a road deputy, a sex crimes detective, the Jefferson Children’s Advocacy Center and Children’s Hospital.
She also repeated the description on Wednesday evening for the jury. Her testimony Wednesday evening apparently was a factor in Fontenelle’s decision to plead guilty.
Fontenelle had access to the child and was in a position of trust with her family. The abuse and betrayal has left turmoil in the victim’s home, the child’s mother said in an impact statement that was read aloud in court on Thursday.
“You have taken my little girl’s innocence away, something she will never get back,” the mother wrote. “It may be over today, but we still have a long healing process ahead of us!”
Before Thursday, Fontenelle’s criminal history included convictions of narcotics-related offenses. In addition to sex-offender registration, Fontenelle will be under state supervision for the rest of his life after he completes his prison sentence.
While the crimes happened in Metairie, Fontenelle provided the court with an Abita Springs address for his residence.
Assistant District Attorneys Rhonda Goode-Douglas and Marko Marjanovic prosecuted the case.