May 13, 2011 9:03 AM by Posted by Sharlee Barriere
LAFAYETTE, La. (AP) - A jury in Lafayette has convicted a man of raping an 18-year-old girl over 20 years ago.
Charles Paul Celestine faces a mandatory life prison sentence after being found guilty Thursday of aggravated rape. The victim was attacked while walking to her home on Aug. 29, 1989. Celestine was not charged until 2006 when a crime lab matched his DNA profile with DNA taken from the victim during a medical examination.
The victim had been with friends at a common Lafayette hangout for young people, but left after arguing with her boyfriend, said prosecutor Keith Stutes. The girl was almost home in the early morning house, when her attacker tackled her, threw her to the ground and began to choke her, threatening to kill her if she screamed, Stutes said.
The girl then went home and police were called.
August Washington, a Lafayette police officer at the time and now the police chief of the Vanderbilt University campus in Nashville, Tenn., testified Wednesday that the call was "the darkest day of his police career." Washington had seen the victim about half an hour earlier while she was walking home, and he had asked her if she needed help. The victim told him she was fine and that she was almost home.
"I think justice was done," Stutes told The Advocate after the verdict. "It was long overdue."
Celestine will be sentenced later.
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