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Mardis Gras krewe king crowned with criminal charge

Louisiana defendants may feel convicted the moment they are arrested. It's highly stressful to navigate the legal process while facing criminal charges. However, proof of allegations rests in evidence, testimony and a jury's certainty or uncertainty of guilt.

A 34-year-old man was preparing to take up his royal duties as the new Krewe of Mardi Gras king in Houma when he was arrested. Terrebonne Parish officials said the man, a registered sex offender, wore a mask in the city's Carnival parade last year. State law forbids convicted sex offenders from wearing disguises in public and supplying children with gifts on holidays.

The defendant name was placed on the sex offender registry in 2003, after a carnal knowledge of a juvenile conviction. The local sheriff is sure the defendant broke the law, but admitted the charge probably never would have filed if the defendant had not been named krewe king. A violation of sex offender registry rules can result in a prison term of up to three years.

A person's sex offender status is included on his or her Louisiana driver's license. The sheriff stated the defendant changed his license to keep the krewe from learning his status. Officials with Krewe of Mardi Gras told deputies they were unaware the designated king was a sex offender.

The Houma defendant said the sex offender status was not altered, but was covered up accidentally while copying the license for the krewe. The defendant also said he was aware masks were prohibited for sex offenders on Halloween, but didn't know the rule applied to Mardi Gras.

The accused man, freed on bond, asserted he did not wear parade masks, despite an ordinance mandating the use of masks for people on parade floats. Reports said the krewe's decision about letting the defendant take part in the Houma Mardi Gras parade was up in the air.

Source: Houma Today, "Carnival krewe king accused of violating sex offender law" Bridget Mire, Feb. 09, 2015

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