By James Minton
July 18, 2012
ST. FRANCISVILLE — A West Feliciana Parish jury on Tuesday convicted a former East Feliciana firefighter and law enforcement officer of aggravated rape involving a girl under the age of 13.
Twentieth Judicial District Judge William G. Carmichael set sentencing Oct. 4 for William “Billy” Staton, 41, formerly of Ethel.
An aggravated rape conviction carries an automatic sentence of life in prison without parole, probation or suspension of sentence.
In tearful testimony Monday, the girl, now 17, said Staton began forcing her to have sexual intercourse with him beginning in the summer of 2007, when she was 12 years old and living in East Feliciana Parish.
The girl now lives in Los Angeles with her father, who testified Monday that the incidents came to light when she was
visiting him during the summer of 2009 and asked to go to a doctor.
The girl told the doctor that she had been sexually abused. The doctor reported the conversation to Los Angeles police, who interviewed her and then contacted East Feliciana Parish sheriff’s deputies, Detective Don McKey testified.
During cross-examination of the girl and in his closing argument, defense attorney Benn Hamilton said she gave inconsistent statements about the details of the attacks and suggested she was less than a credible witness.
Assistant District Attorney Betsy Jones told the jurors that “we can understand how a child’s terminology might change over a period of years,” but she said the girl “stood her ground” during the questioning.
Three of the girl’s relatives testified as defense witnesses, saying the girl never told them that Staton forced her to submit to his sexual advances.
The trial was moved from East Feliciana Parish because of publicity about the case that was generated last year by the father’s campaign to pressure the District Attorney’s Office not to allow Staton to plead guilty to a lesser offense, Jones said.
Staton also was well known in the parish because he was a former police officer and fire chief and had been convicted of malfeasance in office related to his duties with the Woodland Fire Department, Jones said.