Share story

NEW ORLEANS (AP) — A former New Orleans police officer pleaded guilty Monday to the 2003 rape of his ex-girlfriend’s child in a plea bargain that spared him the possibility of a life sentence and spared his victim, now 22, the ordeal of a second trial.

Michael Thomassie, 43, had been convicted in 2015 of first-degree rape but the conviction, which carries a mandatory life sentence, was overturned on appeal.

On Monday, online court records show, he pleaded guilty to second-degree rape — also referred to by prosecutors as forcible rape — and sexual molestation of a juvenile under age 13. The victim was about 7 years old when the crime occurred.

He received a five-year-sentence on the first charge. On the second charge, the formal sentence was 10 years but with eight years suspended.

He will get credit for more than a year already served — state corrections officials will calculate the exact amount of time — and would become eligible after serving two years of his sentence, although there is no guarantee he would be granted parole or probation before completing the five-year sentence.

The District Attorney’s Office said the plea to lesser charges was accepted after the victim, now age 22, said she didn’t want to go through a second trial.

“While we applaud her courage and steadfastness through that first trial, we understood when she ultimately decided a second trial would be too much for her to bear,” District Attorney Leon Cannizzaro said in a news release.

The release also included a statement from the victim, which was read into the court record Monday.

“I was told there would be another trial. And if he is convicted, he will begin the appeal again. How much can one person be expected to endure?” the statement read in part. “But today, I have chosen not to be victimized by a trial or the higher courts again. I have chosen to have the defendant finally admit what he has denied for too long. Today, he has admitted guilt. And by his own admission, he confirms what the jury had already known long ago: That he did rape me when I was a child.”

Cannizzaro’s office said Thomassie’s original conviction was overturned after an appeals court ruled that text messages and a selfie photo that Thomassie sent to a woman during jury selection should not have been introduced at trial.

Thomassie had been a police officer for more than a dozen years when he was charged in the case.