GONZALES — A former police officer who once served on a state task force hunting online sexual predators was found guilty Thursday of indecent behavior with a juvenile.
The jury deliberated about two hours before delivering the verdict against Owen Ockman, 35, of 42116 Causeway Blvd., Gonzales, in the 23rd Judicial District courtroom.
After the two-day trial, the victim, who testified that Ockman began to molest her during her high school years, said she wants to let victims of sexual abuse know that “It’s going to harm you so much if you keep (what is happening) all in.
“It’s a long, difficult journey, but it’s worth it,” she said of reporting the abuse and seeking justice.
Ockman, who formerly served as a Sorrento police officer and as a reserve Gonzales police officer, was indicted by a grand jury in July 2013 on indecent behavior with juveniles.
In her closing remarks at the end of the trial Thursday, Assistant District Attorney Joni Buquoi contrasted Ockman’s behavior with the heroism of fallen Shreveport police Officer Thomas LaValley, who died in the line of duty and was buried in St. Amant on Aug. 7.
“That is what being a police officer is about — heroism,” Buquoi said.
“However, like other people, (some police officers) are capable of violating the trust they are given,” she said.
Ockman, who was called to the stand Thursday by his attorney, John Gutierrez, described, as other witnesses had done, his home as a gathering place for relatives and friends and their children.
Riding in a golf cart, swimming in an above-ground pool and watching movies on weekends often ended in sleepovers, Owen said, with most people, including himself, sleeping in the living room, some on a pallet on the floor.
The victim testified Wednesday that much of the abuse took place during those sleepovers.
On several occasions, she testified, Ockman touched her underneath and on top of her clothes, pulled her pants down and molested her.
In his testimony, Ockman said horseplay such as slapping or grabbing others’ bottoms was part of the humor of the family he grew up in and that being poked in the testicles was considered a joke.
The offenses Ockman was found guilty of occurred between May 2009 and August 2011, according to the original indictment, when the victim was between the ages of 13 and 16.
During those years, Ockman was a Sorrento police officer and, he testified, also served on a task force of the state Attorney General’s Office that ferreted out online sexual predators who preyed on children.
He joined the Gonzales Police Department in fall 2012 as a reserve officer and was with the department for about a year.
Ockman, who’s married and has two children, said he left the department after the allegations against him arose and is currently doing landscaping.
On Thursday, the court allowed the state to introduce evidence that previously had been precluded, after Ockman said in his testimony the current accusation against him was the first time he had been accused of something “of this nature.”
The courtroom learned that when Ockman was about 18 or 19, a child had reported he had put his penis in her hand. Ockman was not arrested in the incident.
Ockman’s wife, Jessica Ockman, a first grade schoolteacher, also was called as a witness for the defense on Thursday.
Judge Jessie LeBlanc set a post-conviction bail of $75,000, along with a bail restriction prohibiting any contact with the victim.
Ockman has until 4 p.m. Friday to turn himself in and post bail. He faces up to seven years of incarceration with or without hard labor.