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Family says it didn’t agree to plea deal in child molestation case

Last Modified: Thursday, July 11, 2013 9:26 AM

By Johnathan Manning / American Press

The victim’s family in a child molestation case said they are unhappy that the Calcasieu Parish District Attorney’s Office offered the defendant a plea deal.

Victor Sarvaunt, 50, on Monday entered an Alford plea, meaning he did not admit guilt but recognized the evidence was sufficient for a conviction.

He was accused of molesting a 6-year-old family member between August 2006 and August 2007. The case was scheduled to go to trial Monday.

Sarvaunt faced two counts of aggravated battery and two counts of sexual battery, but pleaded to one count of indecent behavior. He faces up to seven years in prison when he is sentenced July 16.

Family members said they are concerned that Sarvaunt, who was arrested in December 2007 and has been free on $150,000 bond since March 2009, could be sentenced to time served.

The case has been continued 11 times, and Sarvaunt has been through several attorneys. District Attorney John DeRosier said nine of those continuances were by the defense, one was by the prosecution, and the other by the court.

The family said they also don’t believe Judge Ron Ware should have allowed so many continuances. “The way it feels to me and my family, we’ve been in prison for the past six years with this trial,” the girl’s father said.

He said he did not agree to a plea deal. He said he met with prosecutor Shunette Thomas-Jordan before Monday and she told him the prosecution was considering offering Sarvaunt a plea deal in which he would face up to 10 years in prison.

He said he was expecting to hear back from prosecutors, but never did. He said he was considering the plea deal, but never agreed to it. Monday in court was the first he heard that Sarvaunt would only face up to seven years, he said.

“The way it all sounds to me is they just wanted to clear this off of their desk,” the father said. “It’s been on their desk for six years and as victims, we’re the ones who have been fighting for this to happen, for six years.

“Of course as the father of the victim, I’ll never be happy regardless of what kind of sentence he would get, but for my daughter’s sake I would be willing to work with them on certain plea bargains. But if they’re going to sit there and lie to me and then give us something different, how can I even be settled?”

DeRosier said Thomas-Jordan was quoting the current punishment for indecent behavior, which carries a sentence of up to 10 years. During the dates of the incidents, it carried a punishment up to seven years.

The girl’s mother said prosecutors told her seven years, but that she never agreed to the plea deal, either.

“I thought that we were actually supposed to be able to have something to do with that when it comes to offering him a plea,” the girl’s mother said.

DeRosier said that while it is not law that victims or their families must agree to plea deals, it has been the district attorney’s policy since he has been in office to consult with them.

“My prosecutor has told me that the family acknowledged it, agreed to do it and I know she would not move forward with a case like this and take a plea like this without the consent of the family,” DeRosier said. “She indicated to me that the family was not excited about the end result, but that happens in these types of cases from time to time.

“While the victim’s family, as oftentimes happens in these types of cases, were not particularly excited about the end result, they understood the difficulties in this particular case and with some of the evidence that was going to need to be presented and agreed that this case should be resolved as recommended by my prosecutor.”

The American Press is not publishing the names of the victim’s family to protect the girl’s identity.

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