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February 28, 2024

Slidell Couple Sentenced to Life in Prison for the Rape of 6 Year-Old

Collin Sims, Interim District Attorney, reports that on February 27, 2024, District Judge Tara Zeller sentenced Brandy Seal, age 36, and Derek Polk, age 38, both of Slidell, to life in prison without parole after a jury found them guilty in January of raping a 6-year-old child. The Judge also issued a lifetime protective order in favor of the victim. Assistant District Attorneys Iain Dover and Tiffany Dover led the prosecution. D.A. Sims said, “This Office will continue to vigorously pursue those that seek to harm our children and continue to seek the maximum penalties allowed by the law. We could not obtain these results without the hard work and partnerships between our Office, law enforcement, and the Hope House.”

Testimony at last month’s trial established that on December 16, 2021, Detective Matt Bauer from the Special Victims Unit of the St. Tammany Parish Sheriff's Office was notified by an investigator with the Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) of a case involving the sexual abuse of a child. The DCFS investigator learned of the alleged abuse while working a case involving a sibling of the child. The sibling told the DCFS investigator she had witnessed Brandy Seal sexually abuse the 6-year-old child.

The DCFS investigator immediately went to the child’s school and interviewed him. He told her that he and Brandy Seal "had sex."

An emergency forensic interview was conducted at Hope House later that same day. In the interview, the victim gave graphic and detailed descriptions of various sexual acts the woman performed in his presence and on him. He also told the interviewer he had seen the woman use “sexy toys” on herself, as he mimicked her actions on himself. According to the victim, he and the woman "had sex" countless times and the incidents took place “in her truck” while the woman was on the telephone with her incarcerated boyfriend.

On December 21, 2021, detectives arrested Brandy Seal and obtained a search warrant for her residence and vehicle. During the execution of the search warrant, detectives found three sex toys as described by the victim. Later that day, during a post-Miranda interview, Brandy Seal admitted to performing sex acts in front of the victim. She also admitted to engaging in sexual intercourse with the victim on approximately twelve occasions. Detectives located Seal's boyfriend, Derek Polk, who was incarcerated at Rayburn Correctional Center.

In his opening statement, Assistant District Attorney Iain Dover described how “the defendants used the victim as a living, breathing sex toy surrogate.”

Prosecutors played for the jury the forensic video interview of the victim as well as an audio interview conducted during his medical evaluation at Children Hospital’s Audrey Hepburn CARE Center. The State called the detective and the DCFS investigator to testify. The jury also heard the phone calls between Polk and Seal, which were automatically recorded by the prison’s phone system. The jury listened to Polk and Seal plan the sexual assaults of the victim and could hear the actual sex acts as they were occurring.

Prosecutors also presented a recording of a phone conversation between Polk and his mother held after Polk had been charged with rape. During the conversation, she asked him if he “did these things” and he responded “yes.” He also said that he knew enough about the law to know that he was “going down for this.”

The now 8-year-old victim took the stand during the trial. Assistant District Attorney Tiffany Dover asked him about his experiences and he repeatedly said, “I don’t remember.” ADA Dover then asked him, “Did your grandmother tell you to say that?” He said, “yes.” He said that he now lives with his maternal grandmother and that she did not want him to tell anyone in court what happened and that he didn’t want to get anyone in trouble.

Defense counsel for Brandy Seal told the jury in his closing argument that Seal was “only a puppet master for Polk” and he urged the jury to “cut her some slack and find her guilty of a lesser charge.” Defense counsel for Derek Polk asked the jury to also give him a lesser charge because “this doesn’t warrant a life sentence.” He then pointed blame back on Seal, telling the jury that Seal had “introduced’ this to Polk.

In their closing arguments, Assistant District Attorneys Iain Dover and Tiffany Dover told the Jury, “you have seen evil here today. It didn’t come in horns and hooves waving a pitchfork, it came in a prison uniform; it came disguised as love.” “This victim will be sitting with a life sentence; he will live with this for the rest of his life. They should never be in this victim’s life again, so they must forfeit theirs.”

Detective Matthew Bauer of the Special Victims Unit of the St. Tammany Parish Sheriff's Office Criminal Investigations Division investigated the case, the Children’s Advocacy Hope House performed the forensic interview, the Audrey Hepburn CARE Center performed the medical forensic interview, the Department of Public Services investigated the case, and the Rayburn Correctional Center recovered the recordings of the sexual contact and testified at trial.

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