A former officer with the New Orleans Police Department’s 6th District has pleaded guilty to sexually assaulting three young girls.
Desmond Pratt was indicted by a grand jury in August 2013 on charges of sexual battery, felony carnal knowledge of a juvenile and aggravated incest.
As part of a plea deal on Friday, Pratt accepted two counts of sexual battery and one count of felony carnal knowledge of a minor. One of the sexual battery counts was downgraded from incest, which could have sent him to prison for up to 20 years.
Instead, the former detective, 43, will face three years in jail without the possibility of probation or parole.
In each of the three instances of sexual abuse, Pratt’s victim was a different underage teen. One involved a 13-year-old girl, and occurred at some point between August 1997 and August 1998. In the fall of 2001, he was accused of sexually battering a 15-year-old girl. The third underage girl was allegedly abused in 2013.
Pratt has been in jail since his arrest in April of 2013.
Pratt’s most recent victim told lawyers that she wanted to resolve the case through a plea deal. She said that she “did not wish a severe penalty” on Pratt.
While the other two victims had initially been prepared to cooperate, they are now refusing to testify. Assistant district attorney Jason Napoli told the judge that one of the young women “just stopped on contacting us altogether.”
In an earlier hearing, Napoli had suggested that one of the victims was being “stifled” by her mother.
In court on Friday, Judge Franz Zibilich told Pratt that the girls’ refusal to testify against him could not be read conclusively as forgiveness.
“Whether these victims have actually forgiven you is something that I don’t really know,” Zibilich said.
On Pratt’s plea deal, Zibilich noted that, “This is not to suggest that the activity did or did not happen – one can only assume at least some activity occurred.”
Although the ex-officer, who was formerly working on high profile cases for the New Orleans police department, has been suspended without pay, he has not yet been formally terminated from the force.