Federal judge rules in civil lawsuit against former Sorrento pol - WAFB 9 News Baton Rouge, Louisiana News, Weather, Sports

Federal judge rules in civil lawsuit against former Sorrento police chief

Earl Theriot (Source: James deGraauw/WAFB) Earl Theriot (Source: James deGraauw/WAFB)
SORRENTO, LA (WAFB) -

A federal judge ruled Monday in the trial for a civil lawsuit filed against a former south Louisiana police chief who admitted in a criminal trial to taking a drunk woman to his office and forcing her to perform sexual acts.

Judge Shelly Dick ruled that former Sorrento police chief Earl Theriot violated the woman's civil rights while he was in office. However, Dick has not yet specify what penalties, if any, Theriot might face as a result of Monday's ruling. 

Court documents show Theriot admitted that on November 1, 2013, while serving as the police chief of Sorrento, he responded to a 911 call about an unresponsive individual at a gas station. They stated Theriot admitted that he put her in the front seat of his police unit and instead of taking her home, he took her to his office at the Sorrento Police Department where he engaged in inappropriate sexual contact with her. 

The victim claimed that he drove her to the police station and offered her a "get out of jail free" card in exchange for a sexual favor. 

On Monday, the woman testified that she was heavily intoxicated and that Theriot purchased more alcohol for her before driving her back to his office. 

Judge Dick ruled that Theriot was liable because he knew the woman was drunk when he asked her for the sexual favor. 

"I thought we presented a good case and the question was the credibility of the plaintiff versus the case we put on," said Sally Fleming, Theriot's attorney. "I was surprised the judge found the plaintiff to be sufficiently credible to find liability on Mr. Theriot."

Theriot pleaded guilty in February 2014 to making false statements to an FBI special agent in a sexual assault investigation. He was sentenced in September 2014 to 24 months probation with no jail time and ordered to pay $2,500 in fines immediately.

According to the US Attorney's Office, Theriot also admitted to later making numerous false statements to an FBI special agent and a deputy with the Ascension Parish Sheriff's Office, who were investigating whether Theriot violated federal civil rights laws, among other things.

On Feb. 7, 2014, Theriot resigned as chief of police as required by the plea agreement with the US Attorney's Office. On Feb. 6, 2014, Theriot sent a letter to the mayor of Sorrento and councilmen announcing his retirement and that it would begin the next day.

A ruling in the case against the Town of Sorrento is expected some time in July. 

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