Rape Conviction Overturned: Lawyer Accused Of Keeping Bribe Cash
BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) _ A convicted rapist who claims his lawyer cheated on a deal to bribe his judge has been granted a new trial and is free on $50,000 bond.
William R. ″Bill″ Hunt was convicted of aggravated rape in a non-jury trial last August.
Prosecutors’ decision to set aside the conviction, which carried a mandatory life sentence, and try Hunt again has upset his accuser and her family.
″We feel like we’ve already had an injustice done when she was raped, and now the court’s done it again,″ said the 20-year-old woman’s father.
Hunt’s original lawyer, Warren Hebert, is scheduled for trial Feb. 8 on charges of corrupt influencing and felony theft of the $2,000 which Hunt claims he gave Hebert to pass on to the judge.
Hebert has pleaded innocent. He was a prosecutor under former District Attorney Ossie Brown and claims District Attorney Bryan Bush and other prosecutors are trying to use the indictment against him to get back at Brown.
Hunt, 30, made the allegations against Hebert shortly after Judge Bob Hester found him guilty of aggravated rape. He said he gave Hebert $2,000 for Hester’s campaign fund and was told the money would ensure his acquittal.
But Hester said he was never told or given any money by Hebert or Hunt.
After Hunt’s conviction, members of his family contacted an out-of-state attorney to get in touch with Hester, who then told the district attorney’s office of the allegations.
Hunt’s new lawyers, Anthony Bertucci and John DiGiulio, asked for the new trial on grounds that he was denied his right to make an informed decision about his constitutional right to a jury trial, and of his right to effective assistance of counsel.
Court records show that Hunt’s bond was reduced Dec. 1 from $100,000 to $50,000, and he was released Dec. 7.
His accuser’s father said he knew of the release, but did not tell his daughter until after Christmas.
Hunt was convicted of raping the woman, then 19, at knife-point. Hunt was known by the woman and her family. Hunt claimed the woman agreed to have sex with him.