Marcellus White

Marcellus White

Prosecutors hit a former New Orleans Police Department officer with charges of sexual battery on Wednesday, months after he was first jailed on allegations that he sexually assaulted young boys in his care.

The Orleans Parish District Attorney’s Office charged Marcellus White, 46, with five counts of sexual battery of a victim under the age of 13. He is now being held in lieu of $850,000 bail.

White is also facing two civil lawsuits over claims that he assaulted boys as young as 10 for years while working as a karate instructor and a youth mentor through a fraternal organization.

Roderick James, the attorney who filed one of those suits, said he understands that the District Attorney’s Office is negotiating a plea deal in the criminal case. Citing unnamed sources, nola.com reported on Thursday that White will plead guilty to the charges under a deal with prosecutors.

White faces a sentence of 25 years to life in prison if convicted of sexual battery. He was initially booked on rape counts that would have carried a mandatory life sentence.

Filing of formal charges in the case had been delayed several times with the permission of White’s defense attorney, Bruce Whittaker. He did not immediately respond to a request for comment Thursday.

In his 19 years with the Police Department, White was lauded as a model cop for his off-duty efforts to tutor young men. But that narrative came crashing down with his arrest in September.

Police alleged that he abused at least four boys over 16 years as a karate instructor at the former Iberville housing development and as a mentor with the Phi Beta Sigma fraternity and its youth auxiliary.

The assaults began as early as 2000 and continued until early 2016, police said. White resigned from the NOPD after his arrest.

White’s case has been assigned to Criminal District Court Judge Tracey Flemings-Davillier. His arraignment is set for Tuesday.

Follow Matt Sledge on Twitter, @mgsledge.

msledge@theadvocate.com | (504) 636-7432