Tag: rape

Stephen Sauer pleads guilty to drugging, molesting 17 men, gets 25-year sentence

A Jefferson Parish judge on Friday (July 7) sentenced Stephen Sauer to 25 years in prison, after he pleaded guilty to being a serial sexual predator who drugged 17 men he met in the French Quarter and drove the unconscious victims to his Metairie home. There, he used mobile devices to obtain images of the victims in various stages of undress; he molested some of the men.

Sauer, 61, admitted to targeting men who appeared to be intoxicated, lost or in need of assistance. Then, in offering to help, he drugged the men. In some cases, he put narcotics in their drinks while at bars or, after they passed out from drinking alcohol, he used an eyedropper to feed them the sleep-inducing substances.

Sauer then drove the victims to his home in the 4700 block of Purdue Drive, where he photographed or videotaped the unconscious men. He molested some of the men and pleasured himself, and the following morning he gave them rides to their hotels or other locations.

He shared his images with others through a website or traded the images with others via email, the Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office found in its investigation.

Many of the victims were visiting New Orleans from out of state, were separated from friends or simply lost when Sauer approached them and offered help. The crimes for which he was charged occurred over a two-year period beginning in 2019.

Sauer pleaded guilty to 13 counts of sexual battery, nine counts of third-degree rape, 17 counts of video voyeurism and to 16 misdemeanor charges of possessing legend drugs without prescriptions and possession of drug paraphernalia.

Sauer admitted his crimes and pled guilty as charged in 24th Judicial District Judge Shayna Beevers Morvant’s court and was sentenced to a total of 25 years in prison. The judge additionally ordered Sauer to register as a sex offender for the rest of his life, and to refrain from contacting 12 of his victims for the rest of his life.

The investigation began in June 2021, after Sauer sent a computer hard drive to an electronics repair company in New York. A data recovery technician found hundreds of images suggesting sexual assaults had taken place. New York law enforcement officials determined the images were taken in Metairie and notified the Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office.

Detectives were able to identify many victims in part because Sauer took photographs of their driver’s licenses or other forms of identification.

In Sauer’s home, detectives found prescription pill bottles in the name of a convicted sex offender in Missouri. The narcotics included a common “date rape” drug, Zolpidem.

Detectives believe that more than 50 victims remain unidentified.

Assistant District Attorneys Kellie Rish and Rachel Africk prosecuted the case.




Dalton Breaux III guilty in Marrero rape

A Jefferson Parish jury on Thursday evening (March 10) found Dalton Breaux III guilty of breaking into a woman’s Marrero home and raping her.

Breaux, 40, of Marrero, was convicted of third-degree rape and of attempted unauthorized entry of an inhabited dwelling for the June 25, 2019, crime. Breaux and the 27-year-old victim knew each other.

According to evidence presented at trial, Breaux walked to the woman’s home, entered the fenced-in yard and used tools to pry open a bathroom window that overlooked an alley.

The victim was roused from sleep by her dogs barking and saw Breaux standing in the bedroom holding a hammer. After raping her, he fled, leaving behind his boxer underwear.

In the grass outside the bathroom window, Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office investigators found a lawn chair that Breaux used to climb inside, a pry bar and screwdriver, and a jug of water. Detectives obtained video surveillance from a nearby home showing Breaux walking down the street toward the victim’s home carrying a jug of water, according to trial testimony.

Breaux’s DNA was recovered from the victim’s body and from the boxers that he left at the crime scene, according to testimony. The victim also suffered from bruising she received during the attack.

Breaux testified that the encounter was consensual.

Jurors deliberated just over two hours before returning with the verdict. Breaux was charged with second-degree rape, but jurors returned with the lesser charge of third-degree rape.

Judge Stephen Grefer of the 24th Judicial District Court is scheduled to sentence Breaux on April 13.

Assistant District Attorneys Zachary Popovich and Tucker Wimberly prosecuted the case.

Kenner man convicted of raping a child

A Jefferson Parish jury on Thursday evening (June 3) found Tobe Lawrence Jr. guilty as charged of raping a child during a 7-year period. 

Lawrence, 59, of Kenner, faces a mandatory sentence of life in prison for his conviction of first-degree rape of a victim under the age of 12. The abuse, which occurred between from 2001 and 2008, was reported to the Kenner Police Department in July 2018. 

Prosecutors were also able to present testimony from an additional victim who is now 35 years old who was abused by the defendant in a similar manner. That victim was initially reluctant to participate in the prosecution. While Lawrence was not charged for abusing this victim, prosecutors were allowed to present this testimony to show evidence of Lawrence’s commission of another crime, wrong or act involving sexually assaultive behavior under Louisiana law as “lustful disposition” towards a child. 

Lawrence, a then volunteer coach in the Kenner Parks and Recreations Department’s Lincoln Manor Gym, denied the accusations and said the victims lied. Of the child he raped, his defense lawyers asserted the victim must have confused Lawrence with a convicted sex offender who lived near their client.

Jurors deliberated just over one hour before returning their unanimous verdict. Judge Adrian Adams of the 24th Judicial District Court is scheduled to sentence Lawrence on June 30.

Assistant District Attorneys Zach Grate and Lindsey Truhe prosecuted the case.



Westwego man convicted of sexually assaulting two women as Jefferson Parish jury trials resume

A Jefferson Parish jury, the first one empaneled in the 24th Judicial District since the Louisiana Supreme Court lifted its year-long moratorium on jury trials last month, convicted a Westwego man Wednesday (April 21) of sexually assaulting two women.

John W. Patton, 56, is guilty as charged of the attempted forcible rape of one victim, and of the forcible rape, sexual battery and false imprisonment of a second victim, the jury decided after 50 minutes of deliberation.

The first victim was a 44-year-old woman who Patton attempted to rape on Oct. 29, 2016, in her apartment in Kenner, according to trial testimony. Patton met the woman through a dating website several weeks before the crime occurred.

The second victim was a 50-year-old woman Patton victimized between Sept. 7, 2018 and Sept. 8, 2018, in his Westwego residence, according to trial testimony. The victim also met Patton through a dating website. Patton lured the victim to his home after asserting that his sister was there. After the victim arrived, and upon learning there was no sister present, Patton attacked her and held her at knifepoint before eventually letting her leave the following day, according to trial testimony.

The woman testified she relented to Patton’s demands because she was afraid of him. “Ladies and gentlemen, complying out of fear is not consent,” Assistant District Attorney Zach Popovich, who prosecuted Patton with Laura Schneidau, told jurors in opening statements on April 13.

“Ladies and gentlemen, complying out of fear is not consent.”- Assistant District Attorney Zach Popovich

The victim in the 2016 crime did not report it to police until reading of the second victim in a 2018 news report, according to trial testimony. Both women described Patton as sexually assaulting them but unable to maintain an erection.

Patton, who previously fired his court-appointed attorney and acted as his own defense counsel, denied assaulting the women or being impotent. He accused the police of engaging in misconduct.

Judge Stephen Grefer is scheduled to sentence Patton on May 19.

Patton’s jury trial was the first in Jefferson Parish since the Louisiana Supreme Court lifted its statewide moratorium that was enacted last year in response to the pandemic. The moratorium was lifted effective April 1.

A second post-moratorium jury was seated last week in Judge Adrian Adams’ court. On Thursday (April 15), those jurors convicted a Baton Rouge man of being a convicted felon in possession of a firearm. Assistant District Attorneys Zach Grate and Margaret Martin prosecuted that case.

Then, on Tuesday (April 20), a jury was seated in Judge Frank Brindisi’s court to weigh evidence against Alexander Style, 41, of New Orleans, who was charged with being a convicted felon in possession of a firearm and witness intimidation. But before opening statements began Wednesday, Styles pleaded guilty as charged and was sentenced to 10 years in prison. Assistant District Attorneys Joshua Vanderhooft and Matthew Whitworth prosecuted the case.

In November, meanwhile, when the moratorium was temporarily lifted, a jury seated in Judge Michael Mentz’s court convicted a Marrero man of violating a protective order and of other offenses. That jury was seated only because the defendant filed a speedy trial motion earlier in the year. Assistant District Attorneys Popovich and Rebecca Kehoe Thomas prosecuted that case.



Irwin Gomez-Colon sentenced to life for brutal 2017 stabbing, strangulation murder

A Jefferson Parish judge on Monday (Jan. 6) sentenced Irwin Gomez-Colon to a mandatory life sentence in prison for brutally stabbing and strangling a woman to death in her Terrytown apartment after raping her.

Gomez-Colon, 34, a native of Honduras, was convicted as charged of the second-degree murder of Nancy Yahaira Gomez Rodriguez, 33, a mother of two sons who died April 22, 2017, in the 2100 block of Empire Place.

She had been stabbed 24 times in her back and was strangled, according to evidence presented at trial. Gomez-Colon’s DNA obtained from his blood and a condom found at the scene linked him to the crime. A jury unanimously found him guilty on Dec. 5.

Through a letter written as impact testimony and read aloud in court Monday, Rodriguez’s family said she immigrated from the Dominican Republic in 2004 in search of a better life in the United States. She had a son who lived with her in Terrytown and an older son who lives in the Dominican Republic, the family said.

After denying a defense motion for a new trial, Judge Frank Brindisi of the 24th Judicial District Court called Gomez-Colon’s actions “horrendous.” Speaking through an interpreter, Gomez-Colon protested the conviction, saying he is innocent.

Judge Brindisi said the evidence shows otherwise and sentenced Gomez-Colon to life in prison at hard labor without parole, probation or suspension of sentence. “Mr. Colon, good luck. You’re going where you need to be,” Judge Brindisi said.

Assistant District Attorneys Rachel Africk and Joshua Vanderhooft prosecuted the case.


Week roundup: New Orleans man pleads to narcotics offense during trial, Honduran man convicted of molesting child

Two Jefferson Parish juries were seated this week for two unrelated trials, with one returning a guilty verdict against a man accused of sexually abusing a child and the other never getting to deliberate because the defendant pleaded guilty as charged.

Louisiana vs. Tyran Jones

Tyran Jones, 26, of New Orleans, received a 20-year prison sentence Wednesday night after he pleaded guilty to possession with intent to distribute cocaine, possession with intent to distribute heroin and of being a convicted felon in possession of a firearm. He also pleaded guilty to misdemeanor possession of marijuana and resisting an officer.

The state presented nine witnesses to jurors and was resting its case when Jones pleaded guilty as charged.

On Jan. 23, 2018, Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office narcotics agents arrested Jones on Jefferson Highway near Causeway Boulevard after observing him engaged in a drug transaction, according to trial testimony.

The agents found marijuana on his person and in his car, along with a loaded pistol in his vehicle. After transporting Jones following his arrest, deputies found cocaine and heroin where he was seated in the police unit, according to trial testimony.

Jurors were shown evidence from his cell phone that proved he was engaged in illegal narcotics sales and that he possessed the firearm. He was barred from possessing guns because of previous robbery and narcotics convictions in New Orleans.

After Jones admitted his guilt, Judge Lee Faulkner of the 24th Judicial District Court sentenced Jones to 20 years for the firearm charge, 15 years for the cocaine charge on a double bill and 20 years for the heroin charge. Judge Faulkner also sentenced Jones to six months resisting an officer and 15 days for the marijuana offense. He ran the sentences concurrently.

Assistant District Attorneys Brittany Beckner and Laura Schneidau prosecuted the case.

Louisiana vs. Edin Melgar

On Thursday night, a jury deliberated about 15 minutes before convicting Edin Melgar, 38, a native of Honduras who lived in Metairie, as charged of sexual battery of a juvenile under age 13 and indecent behavior with a juvenile.

Both offenses involved a child who was between the ages of nine and 11 when the abuse ended in September 2018. The child, her mother and their pastor reported the abuse to the Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office on Sept. 28, 2018, leading to Melgar’s arrest. According to trial testimony, the child disclosed that Melgar threatened to harm her if she told anyone.

Jurors heard that at the time of his arrest, Melgar was wanted in South Carolina on charges of raping a child in that state in 2009. That victim testified Thursday.

Judge Scott Schlegel of the 24th Judicial District Court is scheduled to sentence Melgar on Aug. 19.

Assistant District Attorneys Zachary Popovich and Lynn Schiffman prosecuted the case.

Man convicted of raping, impregnating 12-year-old girl

A Jefferson Parish jury on Tuesday (May 1) found a man guilty of raping and impregnating a 12-year-old girl in West Jefferson, rejecting the defendant’s assertion that the victim used his discarded condom to cause the pregnancy.

Jose Ivan Moreno Cervantes, 36, who at the time of his arrest resided in Denham Springs, was convicted as charged of first-degree rape of a juvenile under age 13, a crime that carries a mandatory life sentence in prison.

Cervantes raped the girl three times, twice in Westwego and once in his car in Marrero, according to evidence presented during the two-day trial. School officials suspected in late August 2015 that the child was pregnant, a suspicion the mother initially rejected.

However, that same day, a pediatrician confirmed that the victim was 8 ½ months pregnant. She then told authorities that she had been raped by Cervantes, who by this point had vanished from Jefferson Parish. The victim was 12 years old when she gave birth in September 2015.

Police obtained a warrant for Cervantes’ arrest, and a U.S. Marshals Service fugitive task force apprehended him in July 2016, when the newborn was nine months old, according to evidence presented during the trial.

DNA testing established that Cervantes is the father. Prior to trial, the victim and her mother signed an affidavit at the behest of Cervantes’ family, asserting that the child obtained one of his used condoms and impregnated herself. She later refuted the assertions spelled out in the affidavit, saying she signed it in hopes her child would have a father.

The jury deliberated less than a half-hour in convicting Cervantes. Judge John Molaison of the 24th Judicial District Court is scheduled to sentence Cervantes on Monday (May 7).

Assistant District Attorneys Rachel Africk and Blair Constant prosecuted the case.



DA’s statement on refusal of rape charge against man who killed wife, Westwego officer

Statement from Jefferson Parish District Attorney Paul D. Connick, Jr.:

First and foremost, at this time of horrible tragedy, my thoughts and prayers are with the family of Officer Michael Louviere, the family of Simone Veal, and the entire law enforcement community.

Sylvester Holt, Jr. (DOB 8/3/1984) was booked in Jefferson Parish with first-degree rape last year (under JPSO Item No. E-02768-16). The victim who made the rape allegation told authorities that she met the unknown suspect on May 4, 2016, while she was on a street near a bar in New Orleans and willingly got into his vehicle with him believing they were going to his home in Metairie.  However, the victim said he stopped at a location in Metairie and raped her at gunpoint in his car.  After being identified as the suspect and subsequently arrested, Holt denied raping the victim and claimed the sexual encounter was consensual.

In December, JPSO detectives and DA’s Office investigators attempted to locate the victim in New Orleans, to no avail, and the victim did not respond to voice messages left on her cell phone. On the night of Dec. 20, 2016, the victim left a voicemail with, and later sent text messages to a DA’s Office investigator, saying she did not wish to pursue charges.  She was subsequently located and brought to the DA’s Office.  During the course of the interview, she said for the first time she had met Holt on a previous occasion.  She claimed she saw him again on the night of the incident and reiterated the rape allegation, but again insisted that she did not wish to pursue the charges.

A follow-up meeting was scheduled, but she continued to be uncooperative. With assistance from the JPSO, the victim was located and transported to the DA’s Office for the follow-up interview on Dec. 29, 2016.  At that time she remained uncooperative and insisted that charges be dropped.  She requested and signed an affidavit saying she wished to withdraw the charges.

On Jan. 5, 2017, she left a voicemail with a DA’s Office investigator, inquiring about the status of the investigation and reiterated her desire not to pursue charges against Holt. She once again requested that the charges be dropped.

Therefore, after reviewing the evidence, and in light of the victim’s unwillingness to cooperate with the prosecution, the DA’s Office determined there was insufficient evidence to proceed without her participation. As such, the charge was refused two weeks ago, on Jan. 6, 2017.

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Man who raped pregnant Kenner woman sentenced to 25 years in prison

A Tangipahoa Parish man who admitted he broke into a pregnant Kenner woman’s apartment almost daily for a month before raping her in her bedroom was sentenced to 25 years in prison on Friday (March 18) as a career criminal.

Brandon Watkins, 26, a former Kenner resident who lived in Independence at the time of his arrest, pleaded guilty as charged last year to forcible rape and residential burglary in connection with his most recent crimes in 2013.

In announcing the sentence for the rape and burglary, Judge Ray Steib of the 24th Judicial District Court noted “that Mr. Watkins felt he could take what he wanted whenever he wanted.”  Judge Steib also disputed Watkins’s assertion that he didn’t intend to rape the woman, that it “just happened” during the break-in.

“I find his excuse unbelievable,” Judge Steib said in announcing the 25-year sentence for the forcible rape and 12 years for the burglary. Steib ran the sentences concurrently.

Watkins then pleaded guilty to being second offender because of a similar crime he committed in Kenner in 2011. Prosecutors filed the double bill on the forcible rape charge, meaning that Watkins faced 20 years to 80 years in prison as a two-time felon under Louisiana’s habitual offender law.

Prosecutors told the judge that the victim wanted it known that she was pregnant when Watkins raped her, and she was placed in the position of pleading for her safety and that of her unborn child.

Watkins admitted he broke into a woman’s apartment on Clemson Place about 4:30 a.m. on Dec. 15, 2013, having done so every day for about a month by entering through a rear window, according to the Kenner Police Department. The woman told authorities she had noticed items moved in the apartment during the period but assumed her son was responsible, unaware that an intruder was entering her home.

On the final break-in, Watkins went to the woman’s bedroom in search of money. She woke up and saw him next to her bed, leading to a struggle and then the rape, according to the arrest report.  The woman told police she pleaded with Watkins, telling him she was pregnant and asking him to use a condom.  He refused to use a condom, she said. After raping the woman, he fled without stealing anything.

Authorities linked Watkins to the crime through his DNA he left at the scene during the rape, according to the arrest report. Watkins’s DNA profile already was included in a database managed by the Louisiana State Police, leading to the match.

Police arrested him on Oct. 13, 2013, after confirming Watkins was, in fact, the DNA donor. During the interview in Kenner, Watkins confessed that he entered the woman’s apartment through a back window almost every day for a month.

He pleaded guilty as charged forcible rape and burglary on Aug. 24. In seeking double-offender status on Friday, prosecutors relied on Watkins’s 2012 guilty plea to burglary of an inhabited dwelling, for which he had been sentenced to two years in prison.

In that crime, Watkins broke into a woman’s apartment on Curtis Avenue in Kenner on Dec. 11, 2011, by climbing through a window, police said. He hid in the woman’s bedroom.  She later was in bed when she heard a noise about 4:48 a.m., looked over and saw Watkins crawling on the floor, according to the arrest report.

Watkins jumped to his feet and asked her to not call police before he ran out without stealing anything. He was linked to that crime by his fingerprints, police said.  At the time, Watkins lived on Lesan Street in Kenner, two streets over from Curtis Avenue, police said.

In accepting the guilty plea last year for the rape and burglary, Judge Steib ordered a pre-sentence investigation. The state probation and parole office investigates and makes sentencing recommendations to guide judges in their decisions, but those recommendations are not disclosed publicly.

In addition to the 25-year sentence he received Friday, Watkins will have to register as a sex offender for the rest of his life when he is released from prison, court records show.

Assistant District Attorney Angad Ghai prosecuted the case.

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