Richard Reed, the brother of embattled St. Tammany and Washington Parishes District Attorney Walter Reed, repeatedly groped an intoxicated woman’s breasts and genitals inside a Covington restaurant, Covington Police Chief Tim Lentz alleged Tuesday in announcing Reed’s arrest on a count of sexual battery.
Reed, 65, surrendered without incident Monday night after a nearly weeklong investigation into a bizarre episode Aug. 10 in which he attempted to drive the intoxicated woman home, and then sought to shoo away police by flashing an honorary badge issued by the DA’s Office.
Police had been called to The Chimes restaurant in Covington that night because the woman allegedly had gotten belligerent at the bar, but Reed took her to his car before police arrived. His car was spotted at a nearby red light and was pulled over. Police ignored Reed’s badge and insisted on speaking to the woman, who was slumped over in Reed’s back seat, Lentz said.
The New Orleans Advocate does not name victims of alleged sexual assault.
After taking the woman to the police station to make sure she wasn’t in danger of alcohol poisoning, police cited her for public intoxication and sent her home with friends, Lentz said. The charge against the woman was dropped after city prosecutor Rene Frederick reviewed the incident.
Covington police began an investigation into Richard Reed after video from inside the restaurant showed him making sexual advances on the woman that included repeatedly groping her breasts and genitals, Lentz said.
The victim was nearly incoherent, and Lentz described Reed’s actions as “disturbing.”
The woman reacted “violently,” Lentz said. Police believe her reaction is what led the restaurant management to throw her out and call police.
Police have interviewed the victim, but she has very little memory of anything that happened, according to Lentz.
Although the arrest hinges on the video evidence from the bar, Lentz said, Reed’s actions raised suspicions from the start. After police took the woman to the station, Reed went into the lobby several times and offered to take the woman home even though he could not give her name.
Reed asked “for that woman y’all picked up,” Lentz said. The woman said she didn’t know who Richard Reed was and that she didn’t want to go home with him, he said.
After being booked, Reed was released on a $25,000 bond, a jail official said.
Lentz refused to release video from The Chimes or from the three patrol cars that assisted in the stop, saying the matter remains under investigation.
Richard Reed’s attorney, Buddy Spell, said an arraignment is scheduled for Sept. 25 in 22nd Judicial District Court. However, Spell said he intends to seek a change of venue and plans to fight the charges.
In a statement issued through a spokesman, Walter Reed said he loves his brother but could not comment on the specific allegations against him. Reed said his office would be recused from the case in accordance with state law.
Richard Reed has no connection to law enforcement other than through his brother. He recently resigned from a post as a clerk at St. Tammany Parish Hospital — for which Walter Reed until recently did legal work — after the arrangement aroused controversy, including questions about Richard Reed’s rate of pay and his job responsibilities.
Morgan Stewart, a spokesman for Walter Reed, has acknowledged that the DA gave his brother an honorary commission some “30 years ago, as a keepsake” after Walter Reed’s first election in 1984. Reed gave other badges to a “few family and friends,” Stewart said, adding that the badge confers “absolutely no authority whatsoever.”
Richard Reed returned the badge to the office after the recent incident, Stewart said.
While police filed no charges in connection with the badge-flashing, Lentz said Tuesday that Reed’s effort to use the badge was “alarming,” adding that he thinks the practice of issuing such honorary badges should be stopped.
In a July statement, Walter Reed had harsh words for the media, especially when it came to reports about his brother.
“Most of the media has no idea the trials and tribulations he has been through. Richard has been a mainstay in the Covington area for many years, working as a funeral director at Schoen Funeral Home, then at E.J. Fielding Funeral Home. Despite a horrific accident many years ago, Richard has continued to work in his field, and has worked with St. Tammany Parish Hospital over the years,” he wrote.
Richard Reed “deserves better from an obsessed media than being attacked for merely being my brother,” he said.
Staff writers Gordon Russell and Sara Pagones contributed to this report. Follow Faimon A. Roberts III on Twitter, @faimon.