LAFAYETTE — The Lafayette Parish District Attorney’s Office on Tuesday released records of a 2013 rape investigation in response to a lawsuit’s claims that the alleged rapist was not charged and prosecuted because he’s the nephew of Jefferson Davis Parish District Attorney Michael Cassidy.
The records released by Lafayette DA Mike Harson’s office detail what the alleged victim told police and others at the time about the alleged sexual assault — details that raise questions as to whether charges were warranted.
“There has been an issue raised concerning the refusal of a simple rape charge in the matter of John Lapoint and Kelly Buch,” Assistant District Attorney J.N. Prather said in an email accompanying the records.
Buch, on Oct. 24, 2013, told Lafayette police investigators she had been raped four days earlier by Lapoint, whose uncle is Cassidy and whose father, Bennett Lapoint, is a prosecutor for Cassidy. The Advocate does not usually print the names of sexual assault victims, but Buch identified herself as the plaintiff in the lawsuit.
Lafayette police investigated Buch’s claims and found them wanting. According to the police reports, Buch didn’t believe she had been raped until she conferred with friends in the days following her time with Lapoint. And at least one friend who was out with her that night told police Buch was hurt when “she realized (Lapoint) was not going to cuddle with her” after they had sex.
Buch filed a lawsuit in Lafayette against Harson and Cassidy two weeks ago, claiming that Harson did not pursue rape charges against Lapoint because of Cassidy’s influence.
Her attorney, Ric Oustalet Jr., also wrote in the suit that Harson released reports to Cassidy and the Lapoints that contained private and sensitive information about Buch. Both Buch and Lapoint were 22 years old at the time.
Harson and Cassidy are currently engaged in tough campaigns for re-election. Buch filed her lawsuit Oct. 14, less than a month before the Nov. 4 elections.
Harson said last week that he didn’t stop the rape investigation, and that he didn’t give Cassidy any reports he wasn’t entitled to see. He said he gave Cassidy only the initial police report, a document that is considered a record available to the public.
Prather, the assistant district attorney for Harson, said Tuesday that the lawsuit had been reported in some Lafayette news outlets, and that the release of the police reports in the Buch case was made in response to the accusations.
“It’s just trying to get all the facts out there. This just sets the record straight. Put the facts out there and let people make the call,” Prather said.
According to a report by Officer Thomas Vallier, the first Lafayette officer to interview Buch in the rape case, Buch was drinking heavily at a downtown bar with friends before going home and having sex with Lapoint.
Buch did not report the incident as a sexual assault until four days later, on Oct. 24, 2013, Vallier wrote in the incident report.
“Ms. Buch stated she did not consider the incident a rape until after speaking with several friends, at which point she contacted police,” Vallier wrote.
Prather said the incident was cleared by the Lafayette Police Department, then sent to Harson’s office for review.
Prather also said a disciplinary committee at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette, where both Buch and Lapoint were students, also heard the case and decided to take no action.
“These two people just went and had sex and four days later she says it’s something else,” Prather said.
Asked if it might have been a case of date rape because Buch was heavily intoxicated, Prather said, “It’s (an) allegation of that, but that’s not it.”
Oustalet, Buch’s attorney, did not return a call Tuesday seeking comment.
Advocate reporter Richard Burgess contributed to this story.