A Jefferson Parish jury found a Metairie man guilty Friday night of sexually abusing a girl over a four-year period, beginning when she was 8.
Simon Shokr, 44, was convicted of aggravated rape, sexual battery and indecent behavior with a juvenile. He faces a mandatory life sentence.
The jury deliberated about 1½ hours before delivering its verdict at 11:35 p.m.
The abuse began in 2008 when the victim, who is now 16, was a student at a Metairie elementary school, prosecutors said. They said Shokr abused the girl without her mother’s knowledge, telling the child to tell no one.
“She didn’t tell for a very long time,” Assistant District Attorney Rachel Africk told the jury in opening statements Thursday.
Shokr, a businessman and native of Beirut who immigrated to the United States in 1989, denied the accusations. He said the girl had fabricated the story because of upheaval in her family.
An assistant principal at the girl’s elementary school said the girl had been “one of our go-to students” who was “very respectful” to teachers and was assigned to the safety patrol to help younger students.
“At a point in the fifth grade, there was a drastic change in her behavior and demeanor,” the assistant principal testified. “She went from a go-to student to a student who had to be disciplined. She had never been disciplined before. … It was a life change.”
The child would not talk about what led to her behavioral changes, so the assistant principal said she alerted teachers to watch for whether she was bullied. The school also contacted the child’s mother, asking her to be vigilant.
The girl remained quiet about the abuse until she entered high school, when she disclosed it to two classmates, prosecutors said. Those students told a teacher, who reported the allegation, leading to an investigation by the state and the Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office.
Judge Stephen Grefer, of 24th Judicial District Court, set sentencing for March 23.