Seaton appeal on conviction and sentencing upheld

Seaton appeal on conviction and sentencing upheld

SHREVEPORT, LA (KSLA) - An appeals court has upheld the conviction and sentencing of a former Shreveport city official on charges of forcible rape and abuse of office.

Former Shreveport Assistant Chief Administrative Officer Rick Seaton was convicted in early 2012 of raping an 18-year-old woman at Government Plaza in Shreveport after he gave her a ride from the Independence Bowl in 2010. He was sentenced to 18 years in prison.

Seaton claims the sex was consensual.

In an appeal filed in January, Seaton argued that there was insufficient evidence presented in his bench trial to support a conviction, and that the sentence was excessive.

In affirming the conviction, the appeals court rejected Seaton's assertion that the victim's testimony was conflicting and didn't line up with the security camera and key log timelines presented at trial - pointing out that it was established during the trial that the time stamps on the video and the logs showing where Seaton used his access card at Government Plaza were not synchronized.

The appeals court also found the victim's testimony alone was sufficient to prove the charge of forcible rape against Seaton.

What's more, the court noted that "in his brief, defendant attempts to portray the victim as a sinister person plotting his downfall. 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 for the abuse of office, the appeals court points out that, as assistant chief administrative officer for the City of Shreveport at the time of the offense, Seaton was a public officer or public employee.

"The defendant came into contact with the victim through his job duties in supervising the operation of shuttle buses at a public event. When the victim said she needed a phone to call bail bond companies, the defendant did not help her with the cell phone he was carrying or by taking her to the hotel. Instead, the defendant drove K.W. to his work office in a nearly empty building, where she would be isolated and dependent on him. 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."

Seaton's appeal also contended that the trial court should not have allowed him to be tried for both abuse of office and forcible rape, arguing that he was subjected to double jeopardy because the same evidence required to convict of one offense also supported conviction of the other.

However, in its ruling Tuesday, the Second Circuit Court of Appeals points out that the forcible rape charge requires proof of sexual intercourse and the prevention of resistance by force or threats of physical violence, and that the abuse of office charge does not require either of those elements.

At the same time, the abuse of office charge requires evidence that the offender was a public officer or employee, and the use of the authority of his office or position to obtain something of value for himself or another. These elements are not required in the charge of forcible rape.

Finally, Seaton's appeal argued that his sentence totaling 18 years was excessive, and that less harsh sentences would accomplish the same goal.

On the forcible rape charge, Seaton faced a sentence of no less than 5 years in prison and no more than 40. A conviction for abuse of office carries a sentence of no less than 1 year and no more than 5.

In imposing the 15-year sentence for the forcible rape conviction, the trial court found that a lesser sentence would deprecate the seriousness of the crime.

The ruling also finds the "age and vulnerabilities" of the 18-year-old victim to be "aggravating factors."

Seaton remains at the Claiborne Parish Detention Center in Homer.

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