A west-central Louisiana man described by a Baton Rouge judge as a "good Samaritan who turned out to be anything but good" was sentenced Thursday to 12 years in prison for raping an intoxicated woman he picked up outside a local restaurant after an LSU football game in 2012.
Clifford J. Howle, 34, of New Llano, who was in the U.S. Army and stationed at Fort Polk at the time of the sexual assault, apologized to the victim before state District Judge Chip Moore ordered him to prison for his December 2017 forcible rape conviction.
"The burden is solely on me. I'm in this predicament because of my decisions," Howle told the judge.
Howle testified at his trial that the sexual intercourse was consensual. His victim, however, said inside Moore's courtroom Thursday that it was not a crime of passion and spoke of the psychological damage the rape caused her.
"My identity was taken that night and replaced with the word 'victim,'" she said from the witness stand during the sentencing hearing.
Prosecutor Jessica Jarreau labeled Howle an "opportunist" who preyed on an intoxicated woman.
The woman testified at Howle's trial that he raped her inside his vehicle after choking her unconscious.
Jarreau said Howle was trained in the military to render someone unconscious in seconds.
Howle's stepmom, fiancee and other friends painted him Thursday as kind, helpful, trusting, caring, smart, a protector, and a man of integrity with a great heart. Jarreau portrayed him as a sexual predator who was accused of raping a woman in Georgia about a decade before the Baton Rouge incident.
"The contrasts could not be more stark," Moore noted while sentencing Howle.
Rodney Messina, one of Howle's attorneys, told the judge he stands by his client.
Howle was not prosecuted in the Georgia incident, but the East Baton Rouge Parish jury that found him guilty last year was told of the earlier incident.