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March 08, 2024

Man Facing Life in Prison for Rape and Molestation Crimes First Reported in 2017

Interim District Attorney Collin Sims reports that on Thursday March 7, 2024, a 12-person jury in St. Tammany Parish found Harold A. Butler, Jr., age 51 and of Jefferson Parish, guilty of Aggravated rape of a child and Molestation of a juvenile. 

The defendant sexually assaulted multiple generations of girls, spanning decades as well as multiple parishes within the state, according to testimony elicited at trial. In August of 2017, the then 16-year-old victim of the Aggravated Rape charge reported to her boyfriend and her mother that the defendant had been abusing and raping her since she was twelve years old. The St. Tammany Parish Sheriff’s Office was notified and began an investigation.

Over the course of that investigation, police detectives learned that the victim’s mother and two of her aunts had also been molested and raped by the defendant. An investigation conducted by the Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office revealed that in the early 1990’s, the defendant began molesting and raping the older women dating back to when they were young girls living in Jefferson Parish. This abuse started prior to each victim turning thirteen years old and continued for years. Following Hurricane Katrina, their family moved to St. Tammany Parish and settled in Mandeville. During this time, the defendant molested one of the women during her high school years, leading to the Molestation of a Juvenile charge, for which he was convicted.

Following the initial disclosure of abuse in August of 2017, the defendant fled to avoid apprehension. He stayed with a family member for a short time, then ultimately fled to Texas. Several months later, the United States Marshalls apprehended him and brought him back to Louisiana to face these charges.

During the trial, prosecutors called each victim to the stand to testify. Each victim, for the first time in years, sat face-to-face with their abuser, the defendant. Each of them testified in detail about the years of abuse and rape they suffered at his hands. The victims discussed the defendant’s sexual abuse as well as the psychological toll his abuse took on their lives. Prosecutors also presented testimony from an expert witness in Child Abuse Pediatrics. The defendant ultimately testified as well, denying that he ever abused any of the victims. However, during cross examination, the defendant was confronted with the statement that he provided to police upon his arrest in 2018, and how his testimony to the jury was wholly inconsistent with what he initially told police.

In her closing argument at the conclusion of the trial, defense counsel urged the jury to find her client not guilty. However, in closing argument for the State, Assistant District Attorney Gabrielle Hosli reminded the jury of something the defendant said in his own defense while on the witness stand, “During his testimony, the defendant told you that he is a human being. But during their childhoods, this defendant treated these women as anything but human, treating them as property that he owned, that he could do with whatever he wanted.”

After deliberations lasting approximately 90 minutes, the 12-person jury found the defendant guilty on both charges filed against him. At his sentencing scheduled for April 25, 2024, Butler will be facing a mandatory sentence of life in prison without the possibility of parole.

Assistant District Attorneys Gabrielle Hosli and Zachary Popovich led the prosecution and Judge Reginald Badeaux presided over the four-day trial.

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