Ex-club owner gets 25 years in rape case

The former owner of the now-defunct House of Blues Club on Airline Highway was sentenced to 25 years in prison Monday for raping an intoxicated 18-year-old woman in a private room at the Baton Rouge club in 2009.

State District Judge Mike Erwin, who convicted Leonard Ray Douglas of simple rape in August, imposed the maximum sentence on the 51-year-old Douglas.

Erwin said the victim was “so inebriated” she could not stop what was happening to her on July 29, 2009.

“I believe Mr. Douglas thought he could get away with it,” the judge said.

East Baton Rouge Parish Assistant District Attorney Sue Bernie, who prosecuted Douglas, said the stiff sentence was appropriate.

“Justice was done,” she said. “Hopefully this will prevent any other victims by Mr. Douglas.”

The victim, who testified at Douglas’ trial, was in the courtroom Monday but did not speak during the sentencing hearing. Bernie said the woman considers the sentence a “just” one.

One of Douglas’ attorneys, Chris Alexander, said the conviction and sentence will be appealed as will Erwin’s refusal last week to grant Douglas a new trial.

The judge also refused Monday to let Douglas remain free on bond while the appeals are pending. He was immediately handcuffed and taken into custody after the sentencing.

“The state did not prove its case at this trial,” Alexander insisted outside the courtroom. “The case was dubious from the start.”

Bernie said in response to Alexander’s comments, “The record speaks for itself.”

The prosecutor argued at Douglas’ trial that the victim was “highly intoxicated” and in no condition to consent when she was raped at about 1:45 a.m.

Alexander questioned the victim’s account, suggesting at the trial that she fabricated the rape allegation because she was “embarrassed” by her own conduct that night. He also argued she could not be believed in such an intoxicated state.