Charges dropped against city investigator in child rape case

Posted on Jan 9, 2010 in Courts, Local Issues


By Gwen Filosa, The Times-Picayune
January 09, 2010, 1:04PM

Prosecutors have dropped a criminal case against an investigator for the Orleans Parish Public Defenders Office, months after a dramatic court hearing in which she was led away in handcuffs and accused of kidnapping the alleged victims in a child rape case in order to get an interview.

Emily Beasley, 22, was facing a simple kidnapping charge and a contempt of court conviction on July 15. But by Dec. 16, District Attorney Leon Cannizzaro’s office refused charges after all.

“Cooler heads prevailed, ” said Chief Public Defender Derwyn Bunton. “She was doing her job. Emily continues to work for us and she has been fully reinstated.”

Judge Frank Marullo had earlier dismissed the contempt of court charge against Beasley for speaking with the two girls at the center of the rape case outside their home.

Troy Harris, 40, is due to stand trial on aggravated rape, kidnapping and indecent behavior with a juvenile under age 13 on Feb. 24 at Criminal District Court. He remains jailed without bond.

Harris is accused of raping a 12-year-old girl two years ago while her younger sister watched.

Beasley visited the two girls on July 9 after their mother told the defenders office not to speak to her or her children, the mother testified in July.

Beasley spent at least one hour talking to the girls on the steps of a church across the street from their apartment building, prosecutors said.

What prosecutors and Marullo called a violation of Louisiana law protecting victims of crime, the public defenders program called fair representation of indigent defendants that the New Orleans system hadn’t seen since Hurricane Katrina dismantled the office and a new wave of defense lawyers arrived.

If convicted of the rape charge, Harris will receive mandatory life in prison.

Two months after the July hearing, public defender Kendall Green, who was found in contempt of court in the matter but by September the case was reversed by the 4th Circuit Court of Appeal, withdrew his office from representing Harris.

Marullo appointed Arthur “Buddy” Lemann III to defend Harris.

“Passions run high when children are involved, ” Bunton said, explaining the initial kidnapping arrest for Beasley. “The right call was made.”

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