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Suit alleges sexual advance by former first assistant DA

Last Modified: Wednesday, December 11, 2013 9:56 AM

Johnathan Manning

A man who alleges Calcasieu Parish’s former First Assistant District Attorney made an inappropriate sexual advance toward him at the District Attorney’s Office has filed a civil lawsuit.

The man’s attorney, Glen Vamvoras, filed the lawsuit Tuesday afternoon on his client’s behalf. Ronnie Rossitto, the former first assistant district attorney, and John DeRosier, district attorney, are both named as defendants.

Rossitto, who worked for the DA's office for more than 30 years, retired as first assistant district attorney in 2009, but stayed with the office part-time as an administrative first assistant.

In September, Rossitto pleaded guilty in Orleans Parish to one count of obscenity and one count of purchasing alcohol for a person under 21. The charges stemmed from an April 4 incident. He was given a two-year suspended sentence, put on two years probation and ordered to stay away from the 20-year-old man involved.

The charges listed in the civil lawsuit involve a man who now lives in Texas.

Defense attorney Walt Sanchez, who represents Rossitto, said he does not comment on pending cases.

DeRosier is listed in the lawsuit as being “vicariously liable” because Rossitto was his employee in 2013, when the alleged incident happened.

DeRosier said he could not comment on something he had not seen. “I haven’t seen it, I haven’t been served with it,” DeRosier said.

DeRosier said he was aware of the allegations and they have been turned over to the state Attorney General’s Office. He said Rossitto resigned because of the allegations.

The lawsuit alleges that the man, who had dealt with Rossitto several times before, drove to Lake Charles on Jan. 3, 2013 to see if Rossitto could help him clear up outstanding traffic tickets so that he could gain employment.

Rossitto told the man, then 22, that he would have to pay court costs, but that he would draft a letter ­— stating the tickets were dismissed — which the man could take with him to the Department of Motor Vehicles so he could have his license reinstated, the lawsuit said.

When the man found out he would have to pay $100 in administrative fees, he returned to the DA’s office to ask Rossitto to borrow the $100, the lawsuit alleged.

Rossitto’s son was in his office discussing an upcoming trip to Colorado, the lawsuit said. When Rossitto’s son left, the man asked to borrow the money, the lawsuit said.

Rossitto got up from his desk, closed the door, and told the man he could borrow the money but would have to pay it back, the lawsuit said.
Rossitto sat sideways on the front of his desk in front of the man and handed him $100, the lawsuit said. When the man stood up to leave, Rossitto asked for a hug, the lawsuit said.

Rossitto told the man “it’s going to be alright, baby,” then firmly squeezed the man’s buttocks, the lawsuit alleged.

As the man pulled away, Rossitto “grabbed (the man’s) penis and rubbed his groin area. Mr. Rossitto then placed his fingers in a cupped configuration over pursed lips and said ‘Oops,’ ” the lawsuit alleged. Rossitto then tried to give the man another hug, the lawsuit alleged.

The man was “embarrassed, humiliated, and in shock,” but did not know what to do because of Rossitto’s position, the lawsuit said.
The man eventually reported the incident to an uncle who was a state trooper and an investigation began, the lawsuit said.

Rossitto’s actions constituted sexual battery, the lawsuit claims.

“The conduct of Rossitto, as perpetrated upon (the man) is consistent with other similar misconduct involving other persons of similar age and status,” the lawsuit said. “Thus the conduct of Rossitto in this instance is not an isolated one, and such conduct speaks to a pattern of similar misconduct by Rossitto while acting under the power and prestige of his position as Chief Assistant District Attorney for the Parish of Calcasieu.”

Prior to the traffic tickets, the man had, at age 17, met with Rossitto about a charge of possession of stolen things, a charge that was ultimately dismissed, the lawsuit said. The man was arrested on Jan. 2, 2010 for drug possession, the lawsuit said. He and his uncle met with Rossitto and on Feb. 10, 2010, the charges were dismissed, the lawsuit said.

The lawsuit asks for compensatory damages from Rossitto and DeRosier and punitive damages from Rossitto.

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