A Gretna man who testified during his trial that the “high-grade marijuana” he smoked moments before meeting with a detective was among the reasons he falsely confessed to raping a teenage girl was convicted on Friday (May 27) of sexually abusing the victim.
Omar Duplessis, 31, faces five years to 40 years in prison for his conviction of forcible rape. He was found guilty of raping the teen beginning when she was 13 and ending the on day before Thanksgiving in 2014, when she was 16. The victim, now 17, testified that Duplessis used force when he raped her numerous times.
Judge Henry Sullivan of the 24th Judicial District Court rendered the verdict, because Duplessis waived a trial by jury. “The court finds the State of Louisiana has carried its burden,” Judge Sullivan said in announcing the verdict immediately following closing arguments. “The court finds Omar Duplessis guilty as charged of forcible rape.”
Duplessis, who had awaited trial while free on a $100,000 bond, was remanded to the parish jail until his sentencing hearing on June 16.
The girl’s mother, whose name is being withheld to protect the victim’s identity, pleaded guilty on Feb. 25 to failure to report the commission of certain felonies, meaning the rape. She received two years of active probation, because she did not disclose to authorities that Duplessis sexually abused her daughter. She and her mother – the victim’s grandmother – testified for the defense.
The victim twice told her mother about the abuse, but the mother did nothing, according to testimony. The victim then disclosed the abuse to her uncle on Dec. 2, 2014, the uncle testified. Police were notified, and Duplessis was arrested the same day.
Duplessis initially denied the charge, telling Gretna Police Department Detective Jerry Broome that the girl falsely accused him of rape out of resentment. However, in subsequent interviews that were videotaped, Duplessis confessed to Broome that he had had sex with the girl.
In his second statement, he told the detective that he was “drunk and stoned,” and watching television in his bed when the girl got into bed with him, disrobed and “kind of” had sex. He said he told the girl to stop and leave. He said it was the only time it happened, and he denied the girl’s accusations that they’d had sex before.
He opened his third recorded statement saying, “I’m hurting, and my life is over,” he told the detective. “This hasn’t been the first time,” he confessed. “At least four times, maybe five, maybe, like once every – I don’t know.”
Duplessis testified on Friday that he was at his job as a longshoreman on New Orleans’ riverfront when he learned of the accusations against him. He said he did not immediately go to police but used marijuana beforehand to help him relax.
“I smoked a blunt of some high-grade marijuana,” he testified under cross-examination. He blamed the marijuana, long work hours during the days preceding the police interview and Broome for what he asserted was a false confession.
The victim disclosed the rapes at the Jefferson Children’s Advocacy Center and to Dr. Jamie Jackson, an expert in child sexual abuse pediatrics at the Audrey Hepburn Children at Risk Evaluation (CARE) Center at Children’s Hospital. “She actually talked about trying to fight, about being pinned down,” Jackson testified.
The victim testified she was 13 when the first rape happened, after school and when she was home alone with Duplessis. The rape happened frequently, she said. “Sometimes it happened at night. Sometimes it happened during the day,” she testified.
Assistant District Attorneys Rhonda Goode-Douglas and Marko Marjanovic prosecuted the case.