The Latest: Sheriff: Prosecutor infected justice system

NEW ORLEANS (AP) " The Latest on ex-prosecutor accused of soliciting sex for leniency: (all times local):

12:30 p.m.

The sheriff of St. Charles Parish says he believes the former prosecutor sentenced Wednesday for obstruction of justice "'infected' the criminal justice system."

Sheriff Greg Champagne (shahm-PAHN) made the comment in a letter requesting the maximum three-year sentence for Harry Morel.

That's the sentence Judge Kurt Englelhardt imposed Wednesday.

In his letter, Champagne said Morel victimized women who came to him for help, "asking them for sexual favors, groping them, and in several cases engaging in oral sex with them."

After the sentencing, Champagne called it bittersweet. He noted that the prosecution was a long time coming and left many people doubting the criminal justice system.

Engelhardt let reporters review letters from Morel's supporters and those who wanted the maximum sentence after the hearing.

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People in the courtroom when a former prosecutor was sentenced for obstructing justice included some of the women who told investigators he asked for sex in exchange for help.

One woman says Harry Morel sexually assaulted her in 1996, after she asked for help in a custody case. She says she wishes she'd filed a complaint then, because it might have stopped him. But she says she thought it was her own shame.

The woman said she thinks federal investigators and prosecutors did what they could. But she says Morel's three-year sentence shows that people with money and power are in a different "level of justice" from those without money and power.

She no longer lives in Louisiana, but came back for the sentencing.

The Associated Press does not generally identify victims of sexual assault.

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11:55 a.m.

The mother of a woman who touched off an investigation of a Louisiana prosecutor says that justice was not served in her eyes.

Danelle Keim's mother, Tammy Glover, says of Harry Morel's maximum sentence, "To me, three years is nothing. He's going to get out and go about his life."

Glover says Morel's guilty plea and prison term won't make his victims in St. Charles Parish feel any safer.

"The fear of him is still here," she says. "They just allowed this man to get away with 20-plus years of hurting women."

The 73-year-old Morel was sentenced Wednesday in federal court.

He was district attorney for 33 years in St. Charles Parish, about 20 miles west of New Orleans.

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10:25 a.m.

The sister of a woman who touched off an investigation of a Louisiana prosecutor talked of conflicting feelings after 73-year-old Harry Morel was sentenced Wednesday in federal court to three years in prison.

Tessie Keim said justice was not served because Morel "didn't get charged with what he should have been."

At a news conference when his plea agreement was announced in April, prosecutors and investigators called Morel a sexual predator. But he was never charged with a sex crime.

But Tessie Keim said her family also is excited that he got any prison time and is happy that the judge gave him the maximum.

She is the sister of Danelle Keim, who began wearing a wire for the FBI. Danelle Keim died of a drug overdose in 2013, less than 24 hours after The Times-Picayune newspaper reported that the FBI was investigating whether Morel had been trading leniency for sex with defendants or their relatives.

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10:00 a.m.

A former Louisiana prosecutor has been sentenced to three years in prison for obstructing justice, though prosecutors accuse him of soliciting sex from women in exchange for favorable treatment.

Seventy-three-year-old Harry Morel was sentenced Wednesday in federal court.

He was district attorney for 33 years in St. Charles Parish, about 20 miles west of New Orleans.

At a news conference when his plea agreement was announced in April, prosecutors and investigators called him a sexual predator. But he was never charged with a sex crime.

U.S. Attorney Kenneth Polite said that was because time limits had passed on some crimes, and prosecutors faced both significant problems with evidence and victims whose personal histories could make them difficult witnesses.

Defense attorney Ralph Capitelli has accused prosecutors of a smear campaign to influence sentencing.

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2:30 a.m.

A former Louisiana prosecutor who was accused of soliciting sex from at least 20 women in exchange for favorable treatment faces his own sentencing Wednesday in federal court on an obstruction charge.

Harry Morel, 73, was district attorney for 33 years in St. Charles Parish, about 20 miles west of New Orleans. Now he faces a maximum of three years in prison after pleading guilty to the single charge.

The deal closed the case, reflecting the difficulty of balancing the scales of justice between a powerful defendant and vulnerable victims.

U.S. Attorney Kenneth Polite said that statutes of limitations on some alleged crimes, and the death of a key witness played into the eventual plea bargain.

Defense attorney Ralph Capitelli has accused prosecutors of a smear campaign to influence sentencing.

The FBI began investigating Morel in April 2010, after a woman facing a drunken driving charge accused Morel of sexually assaulting her at her home.

Danelle Keim then began wearing a wire for the FBI. Authorities say one video shows Morel coming to Keim's house with two bottles of wine, discussing her case, and then starting to grope her.

But Keim died of a drug overdose in 2013, less than 24 hours after The Times-Picayune newspaper reported that the FBI was investigating whether Morel had been trading leniency for sex with defendants or their relatives.

Morel's guilty plea acknowledged his telling Keim to destroy photographic evidence of their meetings.

This story has been automatically published from the Associated Press wire which uses US spellings

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