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Covington Man Convicted of Aggravated Rape and Sexual Battery

Flowers Robert
Robert Flowers

COVINGTON—A St. Tammany Parish jury returned unanimous guilty verdicts Wednesday (June 17) against a 29-year-old Covington man on two counts of aggravated rape and three counts of sexual battery for multiple incidents involving a girl who was under 13 years old. The defendant, Robert C. Flowers, faces mandatory life in prison on the aggravated rape charges and 25 to 99 years in prison on each of the sexual battery charges.

Flowers’ sentencing is set for July 7. Assistant District Attorney Nick Noriea prosecuted the case before Judge Raymond Childress, and Detective Hugh Davis of the St. Tammany Sheriff’s Office conducted the investigation.

The victim, now 14, testified Tuesday (June 16) that Flowers began touching her sexually when she was about 5 years old and that the abuse progressed and continued for several years through about December 2012. A woman named Sandra Gaines brought Flowers into the child’s life, and the girl testified that both adults sexually abused her repeatedly. Gaines is scheduled to be tried in the case in August.

The jury heard a taped statement from Flowers, admitting that he had intercourse with the girl, while Gaines participated. Flowers testified that his confession had been coerced, but the jury rejected that argument, as well as his contention that the victim had made up the stories of abuse.

In his closing statement, Noriea told the jury that, unlike Flowers, the victim had no motive to lie. The victim has been consistent in her accounts of the abuse from the moment she first told a teacher that Flowers and Gaines were sexually molesting her. The teacher testified that her class had viewed a video at school about sexual abuse. The teacher then took the student to the principal, who contacted the appropriate authorities.

Jurors also saw a videotape by the Children’s Advocacy Center of the girl describing the details of the sexual abuse to a counselor.

“She didn’t have a normal childhood, and that’s why she has this emblazoned imprint of five to six years of horror,” Noriea told the jury about the victim in his closing statement. “What she was able to tell you comes from deviant sexual behavior, not normal childhood experiences…They robbed her of her childhood.”