NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) - A New Orleans man has pleaded guilty in connection with the rape of a child.
According to District Attorney Leon Cannizzaro, Donald Steele, 27, opted out of his scheduled trial for first-degree rape. He faced a lifetime prison sentence.
Steele instead pleaded guilty to an amended charge of second-degree rape and received the maximum prison term of 40 years, according to Cannizzaro.
The plea agreement was approved by the family of the victim, as it spared the 11-year-old girl from having to testify about the sexual abuse she endured inside a home in the 2400 block of St. Andrew Street. Criminal District Judge Karen Herman imposed the maximum sentence after Steele acknowledged his guilt.
Steele was arrested in January and indicted in May, accused of repeatedly raping the child between August 2014-August 2016 while she was between the ages of 8 and 10. The girl was sometimes left in Steele's care by a relative.
“My heart goes out to this brave young girl,” Cannizzaro said. “She was horribly victimized by a person in a position of trust, but had the courage to come forward and the willingness to testify if necessary. We are pleased to have secured a very significant sentence for this child predator in a manner that spares her further trauma. She indicated she had no desire to see this defendant again, and we were able to make that happen.”