Ex-DA Pleads Guilty |to Obstruction Charge

     (CN) – A former district attorney in Louisiana pleaded guilty Wednesday to sexually harassing a witness and trying to dispose of evidence in a federal grand jury investigation of his activities.
     Harry Morel, 71, served as St. Charles Parish’s district attorney for 33 years. During that time, prosecutors and investigators said, he demanded sexual favors from women who sought him out for help on case involving themselves or family members.
     “He knew who to target and was good at it,” said St. Charles Parish Sheriff Greg Champagne, one of several officials who took part in a post-hearing press conference.
     “Unfortunately, at least 20 women seeking his help during the last two decades … discovered that a sexual predator was sitting in the chair of the district attorney,” Champagne said.
     Morel was charged last month with obstruction of justice, if convicted of the charge he could have faced a maximum of three years in prison. He was released on $50,000 bond last week.
     Most of the documents related to the case remain under seal. U.S. Attorney Kenneth Polite said Wednesday that his predecessor had been reluctant to pursue the case out of concern over whether they could prove Morel made explicit demands for sex.
     But he said when he took office and heard the details of the case, he concluded it “cried out for justice.”
     “He [Morel] was the embodiment of justice, but in the darkness of his heart, he was something else entirely a man who perverted his position of power to take sexual advantage of desperate women,” Polite said. “And he did this over and over and over again.”
     Moral was St. Charles Parish district attorney from 1979 to 2012. He then served as an assistant prosecutor for several months before announcing his retirement after learning of the federal investigation.

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