Tuesday, September 19, 2023
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City Hall Rapist Fails to Challenge Conviction

SHREVEPORT, La. (CN) - A former Louisiana official who raped a high school senior in the mayor's office cannot fight his conviction and sentence, a state appeals court ruled.

Richard Seaton Jr. was sentenced with 15 years of hard labor for the forcible rape of K.W., an 18-year-old high school senior from Florida attending the Independence Bowl with her mother, her boyfriend and her grandparents. In a civil complaint over the incident, K.W. identifies herself as Kaitlyn Winstel.

Seaton, a chief administrative officer for Shreveport, had encountered Winstel while working the shuttle buses as part of his job, according to the ruling. He had witnessed Shreveport police arrested her boyfriend after they argued.

A corporal with the Caddo Parish Sheriff's Office who witnessed the arrest testified that Winstel had a strong odor of alcohol on her breath, and that Seaton told him, "I can do something with that, she's cute. I'll take her on."

When Winstel boarded a shuttle bus to return to the hotel where her mother was staying, Seaton followed and took her off with the promise to help get her boyfriend out of jail.

She said Seaton groped her leg while driving her to the jail in a city-owned car, and that he tried kissing her neck once they got there.

A bail bondsman told Winstel that his company did not post bonds for out-of-state residents, and Seaton allegedly offered to bring her to an ATM near his office.

In the suite for the mayor's office, Winstel saw a plaque on Seaton's door and his name in front of his seat. Winstel said Seaton continued groping her but that she agreed to follow him to the mayors office because she hoped other staffers would be there and that the room would be monitored by a video camera.

From the bathroom in the mayor's office, K.W. texted her boyfriend: "Tell the police that officer john rape me baby plz I'll do anything for u but I can't f##k this man no more."

K.W. also texted her mom that she was in the mayor's office with "officer seaton."

The texts were sent before the sexual encounters. "K.W. testified that she sent these texts because she was afraid she would be raped and killed," according to the ruling.

"K.W. testified that as she exited the bathroom defendant grabbed her, pushed her against the wall and began kissing her neck. She stated that she told him to stop, but that she was unable to fight him off. The defendant then pushed her down on the couch in the mayor's office and began undressing her. She testified that her belly button ring was caught in her pants and was ripped out when defendant pulled down her pants. K.W. testified that she told defendant that she was on her menstrual cycle, but he pulled out her tampon and performed oral sex upon her. K.W. testified that she repeatedly told defendant no and asked him to stop.

"After defendant finished, K.W. testified that he told her not to go anywhere and left the room. She stated that when he returned a moment later, she could smell a 'latex glove' scent that indicated he was wearing a condom. The defendant then vaginally penetrated her while she was on the couch. K.W. testified that defendant next turned her onto her stomach and vaginally penetrated her again.

"K.W. testified that she was visible upset afterwards. Then she followed defendant to the ATM outside the building. They returned to the mayor's office to try to find her underwear and then defendant drove her to Sam's town. K.W. testified that she memorized the car's license plate number while in the parking garage. After being dropped off, she immediately went to a bar in the casino for a pen to write down the number.

"K.W. was met in the hotel lobby by her mother and police officers. Her mother had received the texts and had Matthew Holloway testified that K.W. was crying and told him that defendant had raped her in the mayor's office. She also handed him a piece of paper containing the license plate number and description of the city vehicle used by defendant."

A medical exam revealed that K.W. had four slits on the bottom of her vagina, "which indicated 'rough intercourse,' which could have occurred with or without consent."

At the conclusion of the bench trial in Caddo Parish, Seaton was found guilty of one count of forcible rape and one count of abuse of office.

He claimed on appeal the evidence was insufficient to support the convictions, and that he could not be convicted of two separate crimes with the same set of evidence.

A three-judge panel of Louisiana's Second Circuit Court of Appeal affirmed on April 10.

"We note that in this brief, defendant attempts to portray the victim as a sinister person plotting his downfall," Judge Felicia Williams wrote for the panel. "This characterization is not supported by the record, which shows that defendant initiated the series of events leading to his commission of the crimes by intervening to get the victim off of the shuttle bus that would have returned K.W. to her mother at the hotel.

"As the victim of sexual assault, K.W.'s testimony alone was sufficient to prove the commission of forcible rape by the defendant. Further, her account of the events that transpired was supported by scientific and physical evidence obtained shortly after the incident occurred. Based upon the evidence presented, the trial court could reasonably have found that K.W. was prevented from resisting the rape by defendant's use of physical force. In convicting the defendant, the trial court chose to believe the victim's testimony instead of the defendant's claim of consensual sex."

Williams added that the record could lead a rational trier of fact to find "that the essential elements of the crime of forcible rape were proven beyond a reasonable doubt."

The abuse of office conviction was entirely separate, according to the ruling.

"The defendant's conduct supports a finding that he intentionally used the authority of his office to coerce the victim to provide sex, a thing of value that he was not entitled to receive by the nature of his office," Williams wrote. "Based upon this record, the evidence presented was sufficient to support the conviction of abuse of office."

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