Former Ascension Parish sheriff deputy re-arrested on child porn charges _lowres

Todd Tripp

GONZALES — A former Ascension Parish sheriff's deputy faces a sentence of potentially decades in state prison on Nov. 20 after his guilty plea to indecent behavior with a juvenile and 10 counts of attempted possession of child pornography, prosecutors said Monday. 

Todd Eric Tripp, 29, 921 W. Elrem St., Apt. A, Gonzales, had faced more than 300 counts of possession of child pornography, plus counts of computer-aided solicitation of a minor, carnal knowledge of a juvenile and indecent behavior with a juvenile, after a series of arrests in 2013 and in 2015.

Tripp, a former jail deputy with the Sheriff's Office for one and a half years, accepted the reduced charges on Oct. 17, one day before he was set to go to trial, court documents show. All other charges were dropped. 

Prosecutors in Ascension announced the plea Monday in a brief statement. But it was not clear which allegations Tripp admitted to or what sentencing considerations prosecutors may have granted Tripp because no plea agreement was available in the online records. Under state law, each count of attempted possession of child porn can bring up to 10 years while the indecent behavior count likely can bring up to seven years in state prison.

Tripp, who is formerly from St. Amant, was arrested three times in the fall 2013 on child porn, carnal knowledge and other counts but released on bail. Tripp was fired after his initial arrest in September 2013, while deputies continued their investigation.

Then he was arrested again in spring 2015 on the two additional counts and had his $126,000 bail revoked by Judge Jessie LeBlanc of the 23rd Judicial District Court.

Ascension Parish sheriff's deputies said that while Tripp was free on bail in 2015, he was sharing sexually oriented messages with a 13-year-old boy from Tennessee through social media. Tripp had been discussing the possibility of traveling to visit the boy, though that never happened.

Tripp's plea came about a month after his defense attorney resumed his earlier plea of not guilty, not guilty by reason of insanity in advance of the planned trial.

In the long-running case, defense attorney Jake Lemmon had sought a sanity commission early on, arguing in court papers that Tripp suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder, but Lemmon later withdrew it as he attempted to reach a plea with prosecutors.

But Lemmon wrote in court papers filed a Sept. 14 that he was re-urging the insanity plea because the case was headed to trial. Judge LeBlanc agreed on Sept. 26 to allow Tripp to plead insanity with his trial pending, but a few weeks later Tripp pleaded guilty to the reduced number of charges.

Lemmon and a spokesman for 23rd Judicial District prosecutors could not be reached by deadline Monday.

Follow David J. Mitchell on Twitter, @NewsieDave.