NEW ORLEANS (AP) — A former Louisiana prosecutor who was accused of soliciting sex from at least 20 women in exchange for favorable treatment faces his own sentencing Wednesday in federal court on an obstruction charge.
Harry Morel, 73, was district attorney for 33 years in St. Charles Parish, about 20 miles west of New Orleans. Now he faces a maximum of three years in prison after pleading guilty to the single charge.
The deal closed the case, reflecting the difficulty of balancing the scales of justice between a powerful defendant and vulnerable victims.
U.S. Attorney Kenneth Polite said that statutes of limitations on some alleged crimes, and the death of a key witness played into the eventual plea bargain.
Defense attorney Ralph Capitelli has accused prosecutors of a smear campaign to influence sentencing.
The FBI began investigating Morel in April 2010, after a woman facing a drunken driving charge accused Morel of sexually assaulting her at her home.
Danelle Keim then began wearing a wire for the FBI. Authorities say one video shows Morel coming to Keim's house with two bottles of wine, discussing her case, and then starting to grope her.
But Keim died of a drug overdose in 2013, less than 24 hours after The Times-Picayune newspaper reported that the FBI was investigating whether Morel had been trading leniency for sex with defendants or their relatives.
Morel's guilty plea acknowledged his telling Keim to destroy photographic evidence of their meetings.