COVINGTON—A St. Tammany Parish jury found Paul J. Lambert, 40, of Mandeville, guilty Thursday (Oct. 1) of molesting and physically abusing a girl who was 10 years old when the incidents occurred in 2005. Lambert, who had been out on bond since shortly after his 2008 arrest, was taken into custody after the verdict.
Lambert faces up to 15 years on the molestation of a juvenile charge and up 10 years for cruelty to a juvenile. He will be sentenced Nov. 30 by District Judge William J. Burris. Assistant District Attorney William Macke was the lead prosecutor on the case, and he was assisted by Assistant District Attorney Jerry Smith.
The victim, now 20, testified that between April 2005 and February 2006, Lambert beat her with a belt, put a knife to her throat, and forced her to watch him engage in sex with her mother. Lambert also periodically grabbed her private area with his cupped hand, while claiming he was conducting a “cup check.” The mother, who also testified during the trial, corroborated her daughter’s testimony and said she was terrified of Lambert because he beat her, too.
“The defense is asking you to consider his freedom,” Macke said during his closing argument. “What they don’t want to talk about is the victim’s freedom that was lost 10 years ago. The freedom to grow up to be a normal adult that was stolen from her when he beat her, molested her, and forced her to watch him have sex with her mother.”
Lt. Rachel Smith of the St. Tammany Parish Sheriff’s Office investigated the case, along with the Department of Children & Family Services. A warrant was first issued for Lambert’s arrest July 27, 2006, and he turned himself in on Jan. 11, 2008. The case had been continued for years, primarily due to requests by defense attorneys.