Richard Reed, the brother of former 22nd Judicial District Attorney Walter Reed, was indicted Tuesday on kidnapping and sexual battery charges related to a bizarre August incident in which he allegedly groped an intoxicated woman in a restaurant.
Richard Reed then left the restaurant with the woman in his car and flashed a DA’s badge at officers who pulled him over, after which he tried to get police to let him drive the woman home from the station where she had been taken to sober up, even though he didn’t know her name, prosecutors say.
The St. Tammany Parish grand jury — which also returned indictments against two top lieutenants of former Coroner Peter Galvan — charged Reed with aggravated sexual battery, second-degree kidnapping, impeding a witness and public intimidation of a police officer.
Attorneys from the Attorney General’s Office presented the case after Walter Reed, while still the district attorney, recused his office from prosecuting his brother.
Judge August Hand set Reed’s bail at $100,000 for all counts. He will have to come up with 12 percent of that to bond out, Assistant Attorney General David Caldwell said.
The sexual battery, kidnapping and public intimidation cases against Richard Reed hinge on several security camera tapes made the night of Aug. 10. That night, Reed was at the Chimes restaurant around the time police were called to investigate reports of an intoxicated woman who had become belligerent. When Covington police officers arrived, witnesses told them the woman had left in a car driven by Reed. The car was spotted at a nearby stoplight, and officers pulled it over.
Reed got out of the car and flashed an investigator badge issued by the District Attorney’s Office, assuring Covington police that he had the situation under control, Covington Police Chief Tim Lentz said in August. Reed has never worked for the District Attorney’s Office.
The officers saw the woman slumped over in the backseat and decided to check on her condition. She was so drunk that officers took her to the Covington police station and had her checked by paramedics to make sure she had not suffered alcohol poisoning, Lentz said.
During the three hours the woman was at the station, Richard Reed offered to take the woman home but didn’t call the woman by name, according to Caldwell. The woman, when asked, said she didn’t know Reed and didn’t want to go home with him, police said.
The woman was initially cited for public intoxication, and Reed was not arrested. But a week later, after having viewed security footage from the Chimes, the citation against the woman was dropped, and officers arrested Reed and booked him on a count of sexual battery. At the time, Lentz said the tape showed Reed repeatedly groping the woman’s breasts and genitals, and he called the actions “disturbing.”
Other tapes from inside the police station showed Reed staying at the station for the nearly three hours that the woman was there and repeatedly requesting that she be released into his custody so that he could take her home, Caldwell said.
When he was refused, Reed became angry and again flashed his badge and demanded the woman be released to him, Caldwell added.
Assistant Attorney General Butch Wilson and Caldwell described the incident in stark terms in comments in court and afterward to the media.
“This is a woman so intoxicated she could barely stand up; she was shoved and forced into the back of a car,” Wilson told Hand. “His actions are something to behold.”
Wilson also said the second-degree kidnapping was predicated on the sexual battery charge — in other words, Reed was kidnapping the woman to help him escape the earlier felony sexual battery charge, he said.
David Caldwell said the incident could have gotten worse had Reed been allowed to leave with the woman.
“But for the Covington police stopping this guy, they would have been investigating a rape,” he said outside the courthouse.
The New Orleans Advocate does not name the victims of alleged sexual assault.
The other charge against Reed — impeding a witness — refers to a visit he made to the Chimes after he had been pulled over but before he went to the police station. While there, he urged a manager to keep the issue quiet, saying the District Attorney’s Office had been in the news lately and didn’t need any more bad publicity.
Walter Reed is the subject of a federal grand jury investigation.
Wilson sparred with Hand over how much Reed’s bail should be. Reed was booked and posted a $25,000 bond on the initial count of sexual battery, and Hand said he was leaning toward making the bail $100,000 for all charges.
But Wilson objected and said the evidence against Reed was strong and the crimes serious. “We have a slaughterhouse of evidence,” he said.
Wilson said Reed had been arrested in the past for peering through a woman’s window. Covington police Detective David Woodruff told Hand that Reed had been involved in previous domestic disturbance incidents in which police were called. Wilson urged Hand to read the arrest report on the case.
Hand assented and read the report in the courtroom before retiring to his chambers for several minutes.
When he returned, Hand told Wilson that he had considered Reed’s history and did not consider him a flight risk, adding that Reed had appeared in court each time he had been required to appear on the original sexual battery count. He then set the bail at $100,000, the amount he had settled on before entertaining Wilson’s objections.
Reed will have to be rebooked on the new charges.
His defense lawyer, Buddy Spell, said the new charges don’t change the facts of the case, and he “looks forward to mounting a vigorous defense with an eye toward acquittal.”
It could be a while before the case makes it to trial, however. It will now enter the 22nd Judicial District’s random allotment. Some of the judges are former employees of the District Attorney’s Office, and Caldwell said some may recuse themselves rather than hear a case of a close relative of their former employer.
The incident was the latest in a series of black eyes for Walter Reed, who already had faced news stories about campaign spending, questionable business practices and the issuing of badges to friends and campaign contributors.
Just months before Richard Reed was arrested, Walter Reed announced that he wouldn’t seek a sixth term. The federal investigation into Walter Reed is reportedly in its final stages.
Follow Faimon A. Roberts III on Twitter, @faimon.