Appeals court upholds rape sentence for Baton Rouge club owner

A former Baton Rouge club owner’s conviction and 25-year prison term for raping an intoxicated 18-year-old woman at a now-defunct club in 2009 were affirmed Monday by a state appeals court.

Leonard Ray Douglas, 52, was found guilty in 2012 of simple rape and given the maximum sentence in June 2013 by state District Judge Mike Erwin, who also convicted him.

The rape occurred in a private room at the House of Blues Club on Airline Highway, which is now closed.

Erwin concluded the victim was so inebriated she could not stop what has happening to her on July 29, 2009. Douglas thought he could get away with it, the judge added.

“There was proof sufficient to establish, beyond a reasonable doubt, that the defendant did not have consensual sex with the victim, and that because of the victim’s intoxicated condition, she could not effectively resist the defendant’s advances,” 1st Circuit Court of Appeal Judge Jewel “Duke” Welch wrote Monday for a three-judge panel of the court.

The prosecution 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.

The defense 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. Douglas’ attorneys also argued the woman could not be believed in such an intoxicated state.

“We are convinced … any rational trier of fact could have found beyond a reasonable doubt, and to the exclusion of every reasonable hypothesis of innocence, that the defendant was guilty of simple rape,” Welch wrote.

The appellate court panel included Circuit Judges Vanessa G. Whipple and William Crain.