Former Delcambre officer sentenced to 10 years in prison

A 35-year veteran officer of small police departments in Louisiana was sentenced to 10 years in prison Friday for the second-degree kidnapping and sexual battery of a woman he detained while on duty for the Delcambre police in February 2008.

Ernest Billiot, 54, was convicted of the two charges by a Vermilion Parish jury after a two-day trial in November.

State District Judge Edward Broussard, with the 15th Judicial District, said he agreed with prosecutors that Billiot abused his position of authority.

Broussard sentenced Billiot to five years in prison at hard labor for sexual battery, and 20 years at hard labor for kidnapping. The judge then suspended 10 years of the kidnapping sentence, ruled the sentences would run concurrently, and that they would be served without parole or probation.

“I don’t believe 10 years without parole is excessive,” Broussard said.

Prosecutors with the state Attorney General’s Office, which prosecuted the case, wanted a lengthier sentence.

“I think you have to consider his continued danger to others,” Assistant Attorney General Emma Devillier said.

“He abused his position of authority. That is much more grievous than an average citizen abusing authority,” Devillier said. “… There’s an enormous amount of harm that this man has done.”

Billiot could have been sentenced to 40 years in prison for the kidnapping conviction, 10 years for the sexual battery conviction, and another 10 years because he had a gun when the crime occurred, prosecutors said.

Broussard said he would recommend to the state Department of Corrections that Billiot be incarcerated at a facility that offers psychological counseling.

Billiot must register as a sex offender for 15 years following his release from prison, Broussard said.

Billiot was fired from the Delcambre police force when he was indicted in November 2008.

The victim, a woman from Erath, which is a few miles from Delcambre, told investigators Billiot pulled her over for a traffic violation in February 2008. The victim said Billiot told her she would have to take an alcohol breath test at the Delcambre police station even though the department was not equipped with such a test, investigators said at the time.

Once they were at the station, Billiot told the victim that he had to strip-search her then he sexually assaulted her, prosecutors said.

Before sentencing, Devillier and another assistant attorney general, Matthew B. Derbes, provided the judge with additional information about Billiot’s past.

Billiot’s attorney, Marcus Allen, objected to a 25-page addendum’s inclusion in the sentencing hearing.

Allen said he did not call witnesses who could counter the information prosecutors included in the document.

“I ask that you consider he was a police officer for 35 years. … It’s a shame he’s in this position,” Allen said.

Billiot was a small-town police officer for his entire career, including patrolling for Patterson and Berwick in the 1980s and in Jeanerette in the 1990s.

According to an arrest affidavit that alleged cruelty to a juvenile, in 1999 Iberia Parish sheriff’s detectives investigated an accusation against Billiot made by his son.

Brennon Billiot was 14 in 1999 when he accused his father of putting a .45-caliber Glock pistol against his head and threatening to shoot, according to the affidavit.

The younger Billiot told detectives Gary Louviere and Mary Krall and social worker Laurene Theriot that his father also used a plastic bat to beat his ribs, head, shoulders and back, according to the document, dated Feb. 4, 1999.