GRAND ISLE – The city of Grand Isle has settled a lawsuit that alleged the mayor and police chief derailed a child molestation investigation to protect a politically connected resident.
But Richard Trahant, who represents the child’s family, told the Louisiana Record that though the settlement was best for the family, he wished some of the videotaped depositions of Grand Isle officials could have been presented in a courtroom.
“It’s pitiful to watch some of these depositions,” he said, noting several instances where he said Grand Isle Mayor David Camardelle and Police Chief Euris Dubois contradicted themselves and other evidence. “I wanted to get this all out in open court."
The suit accused the two public officials of conspiring to protect Jerry Dantin, a Grand Isle resident who has been characterized as a friend of the two, and who allegedly had illegal sexual contact with a 6-year-old boy.
The boy is now 12, and Dantin was never convicted of the charges, despite trials in 2011 and 2012 that ended in hung juries, and an attempted third tried in 2013 that was rejected after he was found not competent to stand trial because he suffered from "vascular dementia," which affected his memory.
The child’s lawsuit alleged that the two elected officials were directly responsible for botching the investigation that followed the molestation allegations and that their conspiracy to protect Dantin further victimized the child.
Trahant said it was revealed in the deposition that Dubois, the now-retired police chief, had no law enforcement background (he was a former shrimp boat captain) and, by law, should have recused himself from the investigation and contacted a Jefferson Parish special victims unit.
Instead, court documents said he participated in the initial interview of Dantin, and even allowed the mayor to transport him to the police department. During the interrogation, Dantin allegedly admitted to the crime – a confession that wasn’t tape-recorded because a recorder didn’t have working batteries.
“Someone can be the police chief and be the administrator of the office, but he can’t do police work unless he has more training,” Trahant said. “Interrogating a suspect in a felony child abuse case, you need to be more than a police officer; you need special training.”
Trahant said the boy’s family has moved out of state and is trying to move on with their lives. He said the settlement money would help with that.
“I would never have called him (the victim) to the stand anyway, but part of the reason we settled is we didn’t want the boy to have to go through all this again,” he said.