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Archive for the ‘Attorney General’ Category

Lest Attorney General Jeff Landry mistakenly believe that LouisianaVoice is going to drop the matter of his office’s foot-dragging in the investigation of the rape of that 17-year-old girl in the Union Parish jail back in April 2016, let this be a reminder that he is sadly mistaken.

https://louisianavoice.com/2017/09/07/17-year-old-girl-raped-in-union-parish-jail-cell-files-lawsuit-meanwhile-ag-still-hasnt-completed-probe-after-17-months/

Yesterday, (Tuesday, Oct. 17) I sent the following public records request to the Attorney General’s office:

  • Please provide me with any documents or reports pertaining to the status of the attorney general’s investigation of the rape of the 17-year-old girl in the Union Parish jail cell last April. That’s the investigation 3rd JDC District Attorney John Belton asked the attorney general’s office to investigate because of a conflict of interests.

Today, I received the following response from Luke Donovan, Assistant Attorney General, Civil Division:

  • Your request has been assigned the tracking number 17-0159.  Our office is in the process of determining what, if any, records are subject to this request and, if so, whether any privileges or exemptions apply. This may take some time. You will be notified within 30 days whether records have been located that are responsive and approximately when they will be ready for review.

First of all, I don’t know the response came from the Civil Division when this is clearly a criminal matter.

But, just to cover my bases, I also sent a second inquiry at the same time, this one to Ruth Wisher of the Attorney General’s press office. Rather than putting it in the form of a public records request, I simply made it a straightforward question:

  • Could you provide me with a status update on the investigation of the rape of the 17-year-old girl in the Union Parish jail cell?

Today, I received a five-word response from Ms. Wisher:

From: AG Landry News [mailto:aglandrynews@ag.louisiana.gov]
Sent: Wednesday, October 18, 2017 1:49 PM
To: Tom Aswell
Subject: Re: QUESTION

This matter is under investigation.

Thanks!

Ruth

To be clear, none of this bureaucratic shuffle is the fault of Ms. Wisher or Luke Donovan. God knows, they have an impossible task of trying to get the rest of us to take their boss, this clown Jeff Landry seriously.

But in the year-and-a-half since this young lady was raped—not once, but twice—by an inmate already convicted of aggravated rape and awaiting sentencing who was allowed into her cell, I have seen the most egregious example of an overall lack of interest by the one person who should be on a white charging steed to wrap this investigation up and to deliver some semblance of justice for this heinous act.

Granted, the girl was brought into the jail because she was on meth. An innocent saint? No, but how many of us are? Who among us has nothing in our past that we wish we could change. I believe the passage goes something like this: Let he among you who is without sin cast the first stone.

So, granting that she was not the typical young lady you’d see in the church choir, she was still someone’s daughter, maybe soiled and hardened, but still someone’s little girl.

And to be denied justice while the attorney general grandstands on all sorts of other high-profile issues in an orchestrated effort to enhance his political career so that he can run for governor is reprehensible, disgusting, and unpardonable.

I am on Landry’s email list for his politically-crafted news releases and I have gathered a few of them and listed them below in no particular order. Following each one, I have included my personal observations in italics:

Oct. 18, 2017:

Louisiana Attorney General Jeff Landry is once again offering his office’s assistance to New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu in an effort to protect critical federal funding for the City from the United States Department of Justice (USDOJ).

“My office stands ready and available to work with your legal counsel in drafting a policy that conforms to federal law and ensures continued financial support by the USDOJ,” wrote General Landry in a letter today to Landrieu. “The safety of citizens who live, work, and visit New Orleans is too important to ignore.”

Landry jumped onto this issue like a monkey on a cupcake (to quote Ray Baronne in an episode of Everybody Loves Raymond) for no other reason than it’s an issue being advanced by Trump, his favorite POTUS (I’ll leave it to the readers to determine whether that’s Trump’s favorite POTUS of Landry’s). Apparently, the safety of teenage citizens exposed to rapists in jail cells in Union Parish are not so important and can be ignored.

Oct. 16, 2017:

Attorney General Jeff Landry today announced the arrests of three New Orleans women as a result of an investigation exposing over $2 million in Medicaid Fraud.

“We have continued to see Medicaid welfare fraud increase as a result of the Governor’s expansion,” said General Landry.

Wait. What? We’ve had Medicaid fraud since Moby Dick was a guppy and he’s going to lay it off on Gov. Edwards? If Landry puts his mind to it, he can probably say gun violence, North Korea and climate change are “a result of the Governor’s (Medicaid) expansion.” That’s how grandstanding buffoons like Landry and his favorite POTUS think.

 

Oct. 10, 2017:

Louisiana Attorney General Jeff Landry is urging parents, guardians, and consumers to be mindful of several child products that have been recently recalled.

“My office and I are committed to doing all that we legally can to make Louisiana a safer place for families,” said General Landry.

If he’s “committed” in the same way that he’s “committed” to investigating the rape of a 17-year-old in a small jail cell where the victim, the assailant, the time, and the assailant all are knowns, then parents, you’re on your own here.

 

Oct. 10, 2017:

Attorney General Jeff Landry is praising EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt’s decision today to repeal the Clean Power Plan, an Obama overreach that would have devastated Louisiana’s power plants and energy consumers.

“On behalf of Louisiana workers, job creators, and consumers – I commend Administrator Pruitt and the Trump Administration for repealing this unconstitutional, job-killing regulation,” said General Landry. “The so-called Clean Power Plan was always a political attempt to force states into green energy submission.”

Yep, his favorite POTUS. If Trump or one of his lap dogs does it, you can expect these kinds of news releases to keep flowing non-stop from Landry’s office.

 

Oct. 6, 2017:

BATON ROUGE, LA – Attorney General Jeff Landry will host a fair housing workshop in Baton Rouge on Tuesday, October 10, 2017. General Landry’s Equal Housing Opportunity Section will give an overview of the Fair Housing Act and address some of the most common misconceptions and violations under the law.

“My office is committed to educating the public on their housing rights,” said General Landry. “State law prohibits housing discrimination based on race, color, national origin, religion, sex, familial status, or handicap; and we will continue working hard to ensure Louisiana’s people are treated fairly when it comes to buying or renting homes.”

…And if Trump should ever go public with his intense contempt for the Fair Housing Act (he was prosecuted for violations of the act as a private citizen/landlord), you can expect Landry to do a 180 so quickly that you’ll feel the breeze from his about-face.

 

Oct. 12, 2017:

Louisiana Attorney General Jeff Landry has arrested a Covington man on charges of child pornography, and he is asking the public for their assistance and information on the alleged perpetrator.

“Today’s arrest is another step forward in making our communities safer,” said General Landry. “However, our work is not done. I am asking anyone with information or concerns about Victor Loraso to please contact my Cyber Crime Unit.”

Obtaining assistance from the public is most likely the only way Landry will ever successfully conclude any investigation, this one included. 

 

Oct. 17, 2017:

Louisiana Attorney General Jeff Landry today announced additional criminal charges have been brought against Michael Wayne Tipton of Alexandria.

“It is a disturbing trend that those who view and distribute child pornography often are also hands-on offenders,” said General Landry. “My office will not rest in our efforts to arrest child predators and help rescue their victims.”

That last sentence is laden with irony and not one damned bit inspiring. Eighteen months after the jailhouse rape of a juvenile, and the investigation is still not complete? Are you kidding me?

 

Oct. 6, 2017:

BATON ROUGE, LA – Attorney General Jeff Landry’s Cyber Crime Unit has arrested three south Louisiana men on multiple charges of child exploitation, including molestation of a juvenile.

“The victimization of children should infuriate all of us and shake us to the core,” said General Landry.

Same comment as above.

This state and nation have seen its share of ambitious, self-serving, egotistical, megalomaniacs elected to office. Not a one of them qualifies as a true public servant in the sense of consigning his own financial and political career to a role that is secondary to the public good.

Jeff Landry, you are one of those and all the glowing news releases that you can gin out proclaiming your dedication to and concern for the people of Louisiana are just empty words. Every time you ring your bell of justice, we hear a dull, hollow clank.

To prove I’m wrong, Mr. Attorney General, get up off your ass and do the job you were asked to do in this matter. Bring this girl some justice.

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Yesterday, Sept. 19, was the 17-month anniversary of the rape of that 17-year-old female meth addict in the Union Parish Jail by a man already convicted of aggravated rape who was awaiting sentencing. (See LouisianaVoice’s initial story HERE.)

Seventeen months and still no resolution to Attorney General Jeff Landry’s “investigation.”

Because the Union Parish Detention Center is run by a consortium comprised of the mayors of Union Parish municipalities, the Union Parish Sheriff, the Union Parish Police Jury and the local district attorney, District Attorney John Belton correctly recused his office from the investigation and requested the assistance of Landry’s office.

Apparently, that’s where the “investigation” ended.

Landry, who harbors an apparent obsession with issuing news releases that promote Jeff Landry almost on a daily basis, is never shy in boasting about his intolerance for wrongdoing and how his office will not stand for (fill in the blank for whichever hot button topic a particular days’ news release is about).

A few samples:

  • In the aftermath of the devastating Hurricanes Harvey and Irma, Louisiana Attorney General Jeff Landry has issued a Public Service Announcement to protect consumers from purchasing a flood-damaged vehicle. 
  • Louisiana Attorney General Jeff Landry is warning the public of online promotions that mislead consumers to believe they can receive money from a settlement reached between the nation’s four largest tobacco companies and attorneys general from 46 states and territories.
  • “It is important for consumers to understand that if an advertisement sounds too good to be true, it probably is,” said General Landry. “Louisiana consumers should be on guard that if a promotion is promising free money, it may not be legitimate.”
  • “Our award-winning Medicaid welfare fraud investigators work around the clock to fight waste, fraud, and abuse in this program so critical to our State’s most vulnerable,” said General Landry. “With the Governor’s expansion of Medicaid welfare, we recognize the need for even greater detection and prevention of taxpayer-funded Medicaid welfare fraud.”
  • “I have made it clear since entering office that the Louisiana Department of Justice will not stand for corrupt public officials,” said General Landry. “The people of our State deserve better and should expect more out of those who are appointed or elected to serve.”
  • Attorney General Jeff Landry today announced the arrest of a New Orleans woman for practicing dentistry without a license, providing services to illegal immigrants. “When there are unlicensed people posing as professionals, it violates the public’s trust,” said General Landry. “There are too many hard-working people in our State to let criminals affect their professions.”
  • “My Public Protection Division works tirelessly to ensure companies that deceive Louisiana consumers are held accountable for their actions,” said General Landry. “This resolution does just that and should serve as a reminder for those doing business in our State to follow manufacturing safety standards.”
  • In an effort led by Louisiana Attorney General Jeff Landry, nine states are urging the United States Department of Justice (USDOJ) to evaluate Obama-era consent decrees and ongoing civil rights cases with a goal of working collaboratively to end them.
  • “Our office fights daily to protect our State’s seniors and sick. Criminals preying on Louisiana’s most vulnerable will investigated, apprehended, and prosecuted,” said General Landry. “It is a disgusting travesty for the elderly, especially Holocaust survivors, to be scammed and robbed by those supposedly caring for them. I hope to get justice for our victims very soon.”
  • “My office will not rest in our pursuit of those who rob much needed services from our State’s most vulnerable,” said Attorney General Jeff Landry. “Our award-winning fraud detection and prevention unit remains committed to uncovering, investigating, and arresting those who attempt to defraud the system.”

You gotta give Jeff Landry credit: He certainly can self-promote.

Somehow, though, he can’t seem to complete an investigation of the rape of a 17-year-old girl even though he is in possession of the following relevant information:

  • He knows the date of the assault;
  • He knows the location of the assault;
  • He knows the identity of the rape victim;
  • He knows the identity of the rapist.

So, what more does he need? Why has his office’s “investigation” still not been completed after 17 months?

The answer is simple and it’s a sad indictment of the political culture and the political agenda of not only the state of Louisiana in particular but the entire nation in general.

It’s the same reason words like cooperation, bipartisanship, and compromise are relics of the past in Washington.

Just look around and you can see the answer everywhere, like so much low-hanging fruit:

In the words of one state official: It’s low priority because there’s no political capital to be gained.

Where, after all, are the votes in defending the rights of a 17-year-old girl who is a meth addict and who can’t vote?

She probably is oblivious to Landry’s gubernatorial aspirations.

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I don’t often delve off into national politics because, quite frankly, it’s way above my pay grade. Some would argue that a local zoning board would be above my pay grade, but for now, we’ll leave that argument for later discussion.

But I fear there is a disturbing trend out in the real world, folks, and the early signs are it’s only going to get worse. So, within my limited capabilities, I will attempt to address a development that, having grandchildren in college, I find especially troubling.

Aside from that despicable display at Charlottesville a few weeks back, there have been no civic uprisings of a scale to require extra hair spray for David Muir’s ABC evening newscasts.

While certainly, there have been several inexplicably senseless shootings of individuals by law enforcement officers, there has been nothing as tragic and senseless as the Kent State University shootings 0n May  4, 1970, or at Jackson State University 11 days later.

My wife and I celebrated our 49th anniversary last month and at the time of the slaughter of these students, we were still two months shy of our second anniversary. We were only a couple of years older than they when they were cut down.

And today, sadly, the seeds are being planted for future occurrences far more catastrophic than those of more than 46 years ago.

Last month Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced that Program 1033, first enacted by Congress in 1996 during the administration of President Bill Clinton but suspended two years ago by President Barack Obama, was being resumed.

Program 1033 (Click HERE) is a program whereby America has been furtively arming police departments across the country with military armaments designed to put down insurrections, riots, or even peaceful protests.

Sessions noted that the program was originally implemented “for use in drug enforcement by federal and state law enforcement.

But here’s the real kicker: The program is now being expanded to colleges and universities which feel the need to possess military hardware. Already, 117 institutions of higher education, including two Louisiana universities, now have sufficient weaponry to tilt the balance in their favor should a horde of angry college students set out to overthrow the government of these 50 sovereign states. (Click HERE).

Apparently, it’s not enough that any governor can call up the National Guard to protect the status quo as was done at Kent and Jackson State. Now the campus police, P.O.S.T. (Police Officer Standards and Training) certified though they may now be but still, for the most part, seriously lacking in proper policing skills other than handing out campus parking tickets, are going to be armed to the teeth.

What could possibly go wrong?

Of course, discounting the obvious potential of horrific meltdowns in tense situations such as occur on a typical game day, the bean counters on university campuses are looking at the bottom line as if it is, in itself, justification for placing a powder keg next to the barbecue grill at a Saturday afternoon tailgate party: “For me, this is a cost savings for taxpayers,” says University of Florida Associate Vice President and Dean of Students.

What??!!

A COST SAVINGS??!!? These are our children and grandchildren you’re placing in harm’s way, you idiot! Are you out of your rabbit-assed mind, you booger-eating moron??!!

Oh, sorry. I forgot. Students are only secondary to big-time sports and the almighty bottom line.

An equally asinine quote by Fort Valley State University associate professor of criminal justice Michael Qualls that, coming as it does from a member of academia, has to make one ask what “WTF?”:

“…as those items become obsolete at the military level and if they become available, why not get ’em?”

By that logic, universities might wish to look into obtaining decommissioned battleships, submarines and even a few dozen “obsolete” nuclear bombs, along with a couple of mothballed B-52 bombers to deliver them.

Yeah, right.

Comic Ron White nailed it when he said you can’t fix stupid.

Just let any otherwise insignificant event occur on a college campus and some trigger-happy, itchy-finger campus commando cop with an M-16 come on the scene and we have another massacre on our hands. Only this time, it’ll be far worse than Kent State and Jackson State combined.

With exceptions that are completely in line with the general population, our colleges and universities have done just fine, thank you, without the ominous presence of G.I. Joe ready to put down any simmering restlessness on the part of college students who might be angry over any number of things—cuts to funding, say, or increased tuition, suppression of freedom of speech (the latest on-campus fad), the every-widening wage disparity, climate change, or another in a string of senseless wars designed only to make military suppliers and speculators wealthy.

I mean, after all, we just can’t have free expression, the free exchange of ideas, on our college campuses. That would be subversive and….well, dangerous. We don’t want these kids thinking for themselves, becoming active in any type of student resistance, or even engaging in dialogue outside the campus community.

Besides the 12 M-16s issued to both NSU and ULM, some schools are getting armored pickup trucks (University of Florida) and “Mine Resistant Vehicles,” or MRAPS as they are affectionately known in such tourist meccas as Iraq and Afghanistan.

Purdue, being an especially dangerous hangout for subversives of all sorts, is getting 25 M-16s but that’s nothing. The University of Maryland is reaping 50 of those, two M-14s, and 16 riot shotguns (12-gauge). They must really be expecting trouble from those rowdy quantum physics majors.

Hinds Community College and the University of Central Florida received grenade launchers and Texas Southern University got a mine-resistant vehicle.

Seriously, they really did.

Next will come the name changes: Hinds Community Military Installation, Fort Central Florida. Texas Southern University (TSU) will become Tactical Systems University. ULM won’t mean University of Louisiana Monroe; it’ll be University of Light Munitions. NSU will be Neutralizing Systems University.

But for the record, neither Kent State nor Jackson State were among the 117 institutions receiving surplus military supplies.

Could it be that they more readily see the lessons to be learned from the insanity of nearly half-a-century ago?

What was it again that President Eisenhower said upon leaving office in 1960 about the military-industrial complex?

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The 17-year-old girl who was raped twice in a Union Parish jail cell in April 2016 has filed suit in Third Judicial District Court, according to a copy of the lawsuit obtained by LouisianaVoice.

The Third JDC comprises the parishes of Lincoln and Union.

Meanwhile, nearly 17 months after the rapes occurred, Louisiana Attorney General Jeff Landry’s office still has not completed its investigation.

The girl, who was thought to be high on meth, was being held in an isolation cell when Demarcus Shavez Peyton, 28, of Homer, who was awaiting sentencing after being convicted of aggravated rape in a separate case, was allowed to leave his cell and assault the girl twice in her cell.

Named as defendants in her lawsuit are the Union Parish Detention Center, the Union Parish Police Jury (which operates the detention center), the Union Parish Detention Center Commission (made up of Union Parish Sheriff Dusty Gates, District Attorney John Belton and Union Parish municipal chiefs of police).

The lawsuit says another prisoner, Darandall Eugene Boyette was also allowed into her cell with the intent to sexually assault her but “departed before committing any criminal act.”

Because the district attorney is a member of the commission that governs the detention center, Belton rightfully recused his office from any investigation and instead, requested the attorney general’s office to conduct the investigation.

And while Attorney General Landry on Tuesday issued one of his regular press releases in which he “applauded President Donald Trump’s decision to phase out of the Obama-era Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program,” he still has not wrapped up what should be a routine investigation of a rape that occurred in the limited confines of a jail cell, a case where he knows the identities of the victim, the rapist, and witnesses.

Apparently, Landry is far too busy issuing press releases to worry about the victimization of a 17-year-old girl—or the obvious liability to which the defendants are exposed.

Among the claims asserted by the victim through her Monroe attorney, Jeffrey D. Guerriero, are:

  • Failure to provide a reasonably safe and secure facility for the custody of women, especially minor women;
  • Failure to protect female inmates from male sexual assault;
  • Failure to provide adequate training to employees and personnel;
  • Failure to property monitor, observe and keep proper surveillance of prison inmates;
  • Failure to properly monitor and supervise employees;
  • Failure to provide, implement and enforce proper policy and procedure for the reporting of, handling, investigation and treatment care rendered to female inmates who have been victims of sexual assault while incarcerated;
  • Failure to provide proper services to inmates who have been victims of sexual assault while incarcerated;
  • Failure to properly secure inmate cell doors;
  • Allowing convicted rapist inmates to move within the facility unmonitored and without supervision;
  • Inadequate or negligent supervision of inmates within the facility;
  • Failure to provide adequate staff to supervise and monitor inmates;
  • Failure to provide adequately trained staff and employees to maintain a safe environment for female inmates, particularly minor female inmates.

Meanwhile, Attorney General Jeff Landry on Thursday (Sept. 7) issued a press release saying, “All welfare fraud needs to be found and ended.”

But he can’t seem to complete a simple rape investigation after nearly 17 months.

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It’s been more than 16 months and still there is no word as to the disposition of a Union Parish case involving a prisoner already awaiting sentencing for aggravated rape who, inexplicably, was not only allowed out of his cell, but also given admittance into an isolation cell where he raped a 17-year-old girl not once, but twice.

The Ruston Daily Leader first reported the story on May 3, 2016, but the rape had occurred earlier, on April 19. LouisianaVoice posted its first story on May 10. (See that story HERE.)

Demarcus Shavez Peyton of Homer, then 28, was being held in the Union Parish Detention Center pending his sentencing in Claiborne Parish after his conviction there of aggravated rape. Union Parish officials were informed by the Claiborne Parish Sheriff’s Office that Peyton was known as a serial rapist and that he had already been convicted of aggravated rape. He has since been sentenced to live imprisonment for the Claiborne Parish rape.

The Union Parish Detention Center is a public-run facility overseen by an operation committee comprised of District Attorney John Belton, Union Parish Sheriff Dusty Gates, the Union Parish Police Jury and the Farmerville Police Chief. Because no one individual has authority over the way in which the detention center is run, Gates was unable to adequately see to it that the girl, who had been placed in an isolation cell because she was under the influence of meth, was protected from Peyton.

Gates told LouisianaVoice on Wednesday (Aug. 30) that it was his understanding that the guard on duty that night has been disciplined. “The guard wasn’t paying attention,” Gates said. “When the call button was pushed, he just opened the cell without paying attention.”

The operational structure of the detention center and Gates’s explanation also brought into sharp focus the problems inherent with private prisons which are little more than money trees for the local sheriffs or private operators who run them. LouisianaVoice addressed that problem in a follow-up post on May 31 (click HERE).

In that story, three questions were posed:

  • How was it that the girl was being held in proximity to a convicted aggravated rapist?
  • Who (and this is the most important question of all) was the Union Parish Detention Center staff member who allowed Peyton out of his cell and into the girl’s?
  • Who is responsible for operations of the detention center?

The third question has already been answered. We’re still awaiting answers to the first two as well as a few other questions we put to the Attorney General’s Office in the form of a formal public records request because the AG was asked (rightly) by Belton to take over investigation of the matter in consideration of the DA’s involvement in running the prison (in itself, a curious arrangement):

  • Where does the attorney general’s investigation stand at this point?
  • Has a trial of Demarcus Peyton been scheduled for this alleged rape? If so, what is the scheduled date of that trial?
  • What disciplinary action was—or is anticipated to be—taken against the guard?
  • For Demarcus Peyton to have committed this act, two cell doors would have had to have been opened: his and the cell to the victim. Why was Demarcus Peyton allowed to leave his cell and even more egregious, why was he admitted to the victim’s cell when he was already awaiting sentencing for aggravated rape?
  • Are any measures being recommended by the attorney general’s office relative to the future operation of the Union Parish Detention Center?

Our questions were forwarded to the Attorney General’s Office at 10:09 a.m. Wednesday. At 11:25 a.m., we got out answer from Press Secretary Ruth Wisher: “This matter is under investigation; therefore, I cannot comment on the specifics or answer questions at this time.”

Sixteen months and it’s still “under investigation.”

How long does it take to investigate a rape in a confined area like a jail cell?

Another seemingly unrelated but nonetheless important question that we could be justified in asking is: To what end are sheriffs seeking bigger detention centers to house more prisoners? The answer to that, of course, is power, purely and simply. If the sheriff can build detention centers to house more prisoners, it brings in additional state money (the state pays about $26 per day per prisoner housed). With that extra income, the sheriff can shore up his power with bigger and more impressive weaponry arsenals.

That theory was underscored just this week when President Trump announced plans to remove the restrictions on military gear for local police departments (click HERE). That announcement must have local sheriffs and police chiefs salivating over the prospects of having a Humvee or a mine resistant ambush protected vehicle.

There will be those who will be just itching for the slightest provocation so they can roll out their military weapons to put down the insurrection and to haul anyone who might object off to their locally-run jails so they can keep the beds full and the payments rolling in from the state. It’s a self-perpetuating ATM.

Meanwhile, someone forgot to check the cell door, leaving a teenage girl vulnerable.

And now, 16 months after the fact, it’s still “under investigation.”

Perhaps Attorney General Jeff Landry has more important matters on his plate than bringing such a trivial matter as a sexual assault on a teenage girl to a close after more than 16 months. After all, she was on meth and in jail.

And we have to protect decent, upstanding citizens first, right?

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