After damning testimony of his young victim, her support dog at her feet, a Baton Rouge man was convicted of repeatedly raping the girl when she was eight years old and now faces life in prison.

After a six-day trial, the Baton Rouge jury on Saturday unanimously convicted Anthony James Tipton of all three charges he was facing. These included first-degree rape, sexual battery of a juvenile under 13 and molestation of a juvenile under 13.

He now awaits sentencing — the rape charge comes with a mandatory sentence of life in prison.

Tipton, 34, was arrested in June 2016 by the East Baton Rouge Parish Sheriff’s Office. The trial had been scheduled to start in March 2020, but was postponed due to the arrival of COVID-19 in Louisiana.

Tipton opted not to testify on his own behalf at the trial last week. His victim, however, did tell her story.

It was a story she first told five years earlier, revealing to investigators a series of sexual assaults that started out as requests to “snuggle." Those assaults, she said, started in September 2015 and continued into the following year.

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East Baton Rouge Parish District Attorney Hillar Moore III said the victim deserves special credit for Saturday’s verdict, going back to that initial talk with investigators at the Child Advocacy Center, where she gave "a revealing, shocking, and compelling video-taped interview."

“She then, several years later, bravely and honestly faced the perpetrator in open court in front of the jury,” Moore said. “We also commend the victim’s family for taking action when she disclosed the abuse and for believing in her and supporting her throughout this lengthy process.”

The victim was helped in giving her testimony by the presence of Diesel, a Labrador/golden retriever mix, who was present as an emotional support dog. In so doing, Diesel, who serves as “facility dog” for the District Attorney's Office, made a small bit of local court history — a support dog had not been used before in a jury trial in Baton Rouge.

Stephen Moore, Tipton's defense attorney, had argued prior to trial that Diesel’s presence was unnecessary and that he was simply there as a “sympathy dog” meant to sway the jury. Judge Beau Higginbotham, however, disagreed and allowed Diesel to stay.

Stephen Moore, who is Hillar Moore's brother, did not respond to a message left Monday at his office seeking comment.

Testimony in Tipton’s trial began Wednesday and continued through Saturday. The prosecution was led by Assistant District Attorney Sonya Cardia-Porter, who was assisted at trial by fellow Assistant District Attorney Stuart Theriot.


Email Charles Lussier at clussier@theadvocate.com and follow him on Twitter, @Charles_Lussier.