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Larose man guilty in decades-old child sexual assault case

Larose man guilty in decades-old child sexual assault case

After more than five hours of deliberation, a jury unanimously found an 83-year-old Larose man guilty of the sexual battery of a 7-year-old girl more than 30 years ago.

The jury of four men and eight women found Warren Danos guilty of assaults that occurred repeatedly from 1984 to 1986. Danos was was originally charged with aggravated rape.

The victim, now 39, was 7 years old when he began sexually assaulting her, according to testimony. She reported the assaults to the Lafourche Parish Sheriff’s Office in December 2014, and Danos was charged with aggravated rape the following summer.

During the trial, two additional women testified that Danos molested them as children, though the statute of limitations had expired for their allegations.

Danos will return to court on June 20 for a sentencing hearing. Sexual battery in Louisiana carries a minimum 25-year sentence in prison with hard labor.

“From the very beginning we understood this would be a very difficult case to try because it happened so long ago,” said First Assistant District Attorney Kristine Russell. “We were much more interested in letting the victim and all three women have their day in court to tell their story and have some closure.”

Russell said she was proud of all three women who came forward and very pleased with the verdict.

“That was a war,” said defense attorney Matthew Ory after the trial. “Very emotional. Many blows exchanged from both sides. Credit the state for putting on a good case. From our perspective, anytime someone is facing a life sentence and a jury returns a responsive verdict, it’s big, really big.”

During closing arguments this morning, Ory argued the testimonies of two women who testified Thursday that he had molested them as children were inconsistent with Danos’ character the 39-year-old victim and prosecutors were portraying. While the victim testified Danos raped her hundreds of times, one of the women testified Danos molested her three times, and the other woman testified Danos molested her once.

“Our vicious rapist that raped 500 to 600 times? That’s not his M.O.,” Ory said.

Ory also argued the inconsistencies in the victim’s statement, such has her changing testimony of how many times she was raped, could only be from her lying. He accused one of the women who testified of plotting a conspiracy against Danos. He compared Thursday’s court proceedings to a soap opera.

Russell said the inconsistencies in the victim’s testimony, especially the number of times she was allegedly assaulted, was because she was 7 when the assaults began.

“I don’t expect you to keep a diary,” Ory said. “I expect you to be truthful.”

“When the defense attorney mocks the victims and the system, that’s why kids don’t come forward. That’s why adults don’t come forward,” Russell said.

Russell ended by telling the jury although the victim was not able to have justice as a child, it wasn’t too late.

“Justice knows no age; justice knows no time,” Russell said. “She did not get justice 30 years ago, but it’s time for her to get justice now.”

-- Daily Comet Staff Writer Holly Duchmann can be reached at 857-2205 or holly.duchmann@houmatoday.com. Follow her on Twitter @holly_evamarie.