An ex-New Orleans police officer who was charged with raping a former girlfriend’s then-7-year-old daughter in 2003 pleaded guilty Monday (April 30) to forcible rape and sexual molestation of a juvenile under age 13.
Michael Thomassie, 43, was tried and convicted of aggravated rape in 2015, but Louisiana’s 4th Circuit Court of Appeal overturned his conviction and life sentence in December 2016 on grounds that text messages Thomassie exchanged with a woman during jury selection in the first trial were improperly admitted into evidence.
The Louisiana 4th Circuit Court of Appeal vacated the conviction and life sentence of Michael Thomassie based on the improper admittance of racy text messages at trial.
Under terms of a plea agreement approved by Criminal District Judge Tracey Flemings-Davillier, Thomassie was sentenced to serve a total of five years in prison, according to Ken Daley, a spokesman for District Attorney Leon Cannizzaro’s office.
Flemings-Davillier sentenced Thomassie to five years in prison on the rape charge and 10 years on the molestation charge, with eight of those years suspended, Daley said. On both charges, Thomassie must serve a minimum of two years before he is eligible for parole. The Department of Corrections will determine when he becomes eligible for parole after the two years have been served.
The sentences will run concurrent, Daley said.
Thomassie was remanded following his conviction in 2015, and already has served two years and 10 months of his sentence, according to his attorney, Eric Hessler. He should be parole eligible in five months, Hessler said.
Once released from prison, Thomassie will remain under active parole supervision for the remainder of his sentence, Daley said. He also will be required to register as a sex offender for the next 25 years after his release, and he is barred for life from contacting the victim or her mother, Daley said.
The victim, who was 19 at the time of the first trial, testified against Thomassie. She reported the sexual assault in 2013 after being encouraged by relatives to do so, authorities said. The woman, who turns 22 in June, requested a resolution to the case with an admission of guilt after deciding she could not go thorough a second trial, Daley said.
Assistant District Attorney Laura Rodrigue, who prosecuted the case with Assistant District Attorney Tiffany Tucker, read a statement from the victim in court Monday.
“Years ago, I found the courage to come into court and confront the man who raped me,” the statement read. “Throughout the trial, the defendant told the jury that I was a liar, and my family and I were put through a traumatic experience. I was horrified to learn that, somehow I, the victim, became the accused.”
In the statement, the woman said she is choosing “not to be victimized by a trial or the higher courts again.”
“Today, he has admitted guilt,” she said. “And by his own admission, he confirms what the jury had already known long ago: That he did rape me when I was a child. I will live with the effects of being a victim. That will never be over. But today, I find strength knowing that, once and for all, there is no doubt left and this case is over.”
Thomassie, a 13-year NOPD veteran, was fired from the force after his 2015 conviction.