Woman speaks out after ex-boyfriend’s release leads to assault, OPSO implements changes

Published: Nov. 17, 2023 at 7:11 PM CST
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NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) - A woman is sharing her ordeal following an attack by her ex-boyfriend, Lewis Stokes, whom she helped bail out of jail.

Officials are searching for 37-year-old Lewis Stokes who the sheriff's office says was...
Officials are searching for 37-year-old Lewis Stokes who the sheriff's office says was prematurely released without a court-ordered ankle monitor, according to the Orleans Parish Sheriff's Office.(NOPD)

She recounted that Stokes, a former live-in partner, appeared at her Terrytown home around 1 a.m. on Thursday (Nov. 16), seeking his belongings.

“He knocked on the door and asked for his stuff,” she said.

The victim says she had known Lewis Stokes for 6 years, and the relationship started out good. But when he moved in with her, she says he got possessive and rough, and she called the JPSO to have him arrested.

“They got him out of my bed and he bonded out, then Orleans picked him up,” said the victim.


Suspect released without ankle monitor immediately attacked ex-girlfriend, family says

Violent detainee released without court-ordered ankle monitor; search underway, OPSO says

Stokes was re-arrested in Orleans on October 30 on domestic abuse, battery, and child endangerment charges from a separate incident and a separate victim dating back to April.

He was held at the Orleans Justice Center until Wednesday night (Nov. 15), when he convinced his former girlfriend living in Terrytown to bond him out.

“I actually went to sign the papers, that was his money, to get him out,” she said. An hour after she signed the bond documents, Stokes assaulted her at home.

“All over my head... my arm and my back,” she described the attack.

She was told Stokes would be under house arrest with an electronic monitor, a condition unmet due to a premature release by the sheriff’s office.

“I say this to any other woman: when them men do that to y’all, y’all have to not give them a chance. I’m learning a lesson.”

“I don’t wish this on no one,” said the victim.

Meanwhile, domestic violence experts said the incident is an example of the dangers of the cycle of domestic abuse.

“This man should not have been allowed to be released from jail, let’s start with that,” said Trashanda Grayes, Executive Director of the New Orleans Family Justice Center. ) “He was in jail for a high risk DV case, so he should not have even been released to go out and do what he did the second time.”

Fox 8 obtained court records showing a warrant was filed in New Orleans on April 7 from a separate woman who reported Stokes for hitting her repeatedly and endangering her children.

We contacted the victim who asked not to be identified and said she has been actively trying to separate herself from Stokes and has not had communication with him since May.

“If someone is dependent on that person for their finances, for food, for childcare, their stability, their daily living situation, it’s hard to say someone just should leave,” Grayes said. “It takes a lot for someone to go into that, it takes a lot of preparation.”

Grayes said her organization has seen somewhere around three thousand individuals this year alone.

For more resources from the Family Justice Center, click here.

Orleans Sheriff Susan Hutson acknowledged the oversight, stating, “The condition of his release was electronic monitoring, but sheriffs office staff prematurely released him without the ankle monitor.”

People involved in the electronic monitoring industry said there are steps that should be taken to prevent such releases from happening again and endangering victims.

“A digital system would be amazing, paper makes it confusing,” said Jill Dennis, with ASAPRelease, a monitoring company.

The sheriff’s office says it is working on getting a digital system using ARPA funds but is taking interim steps to ensure something like this doesn’t happen again.

“The release cover sheet will be modified to show that ankle monitoring is required, this will alert the person to read the document for additional information,” said Debra Hammons,

The victim said recovery will take a while.

Sheriff Susan Hutson reprimanded an employee for their role in the release and is now looking for a new supervisor. She said that it took 6 hours before staff realized the mistake, and though they notified Stokes’ alleged Orleans Parish victim, they did not notify the alleged Jefferson Parish victim that he was out and not on home confinement.

That second victim says JPSO was called to her house before the attack, but deputies left; she says Stokes returned and then beat her.

Authorities urge anyone with information on Stokes’ whereabouts to contact the police.

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