Former Sorrento Police Chief Earl Theriot Jr. and the town owe $50,000 in damages to a woman who Theriot forced to perform sexual acts on him in his office while she was intoxicated in 2013, a Baton Rouge federal judge decided Monday.

U.S. District Judge Shelly Dick, who ruled in June that Theriot violated the St. Amant woman's constitutional rights, decided Monday that both Theriot and the town of Sorrento are liable for his actions.

Dick awarded the woman $15,000 in compensatory damages and $35,000 in punitive damages.

The judge said the woman could not consent to Theriot's sexual advances because of her "extreme intoxication" and because Theriot used his position of power and authority over her.

Dick found that Theriot committed sexual assault and sexual battery on the woman.

"Theriot abused his power and office under color of law by sexually assaulting an intoxicated woman who could not give legal consent," the judge wrote.

"Theriot engaged in particularly egregious behavior that demonstrated a reckless and callous indifference to (the woman's) constitutional rights," Dick added.

In finding Sorrento liable as well, Dick said Theriot was the chief policymaker regarding day-to-day law enforcement in the town.

"Under Louisiana law, Theriot was a final policymaker; thus, the municipality is liable for his acts," she stated.

The town had argued it should not be held liable for Theriot's misuse of power.

Scott Thomas, who represents Sorrento in a lawsuit the woman filed against the town and Theriot, said he had not had a chance to review the judge's ruling.

Attorneys for the woman and Theriot could not be reached Monday for comment.

Theriot came in contact with the woman on Nov. 1, 2013, when he responded to an Ascension Parish Sheriff's Office dispatch call for assistance. The woman was publicly intoxicated outside a Sorrento business.

The woman testified in June that Theriot groped her in his police car while  taking her back to his office at the Sorrento Police Department, where he coerced her to perform sexual acts.

Theriot resigned and pleaded guilty in February 2014 to lying to the FBI about the sexual encounter. He admitted having "inappropriate sexual contact" with the woman, and was put on probation for two years in September 2014.

   

Follow Joe Gyan Jr. on Twitter, @JoeGyanJr.