Jury convicts man who raped informant in unmonitored sting

A Louisiana jury Thursday convicted a career criminal of raping a police informant who had been sent into a drug house in a sting that went unmonitored and unprotected by law enforcement.

Jurors in Alexandria looked away at times as prosecutors played graphic footage of a sexual assault that happened as the woman went undercover to buy methamphetamine. She wore a hidden camera that recorded Antonio D. Jones forcing her to perform oral sex on him — twice— but the device did not transmit the attack in real time.

Jones, 48, was found guilty of two counts of third-degree rape. He had been scheduled for trial last month but skipped bail and was later captured in Mississippi.

“We think justice was served,” Rapides Parish District Attorney Phillip Terrell told The Associated Press. “He is an incorrigible, violent criminal and we think the community is much safer now that he’s going to be going to prison.”

The conviction came two months after the attack on the woman was reported in an AP investigation that exposed the perils such informants can face seeking to “work off” criminal charges in often loosely regulated, secretive arrangements.

The woman testified against Jones during the trial, later telling AP in a text exchange “it was not easy but was rewarding.” AP does not typically identify victims of sexual assault.

Despite the woman’s cooperation, she was charged anyway just three weeks after the recorded assault with possession of drug paraphernalia. But prosecutors said late Thursday they plan to drop the pending charges against her.

“We certainly do not intend to prosecute a rape victim,” Assistant District Attorney Brian Cespiva said in a telephone interview.

Jones’ defense attorney, Phillip M. Robinson, said he will appeal Jones’ conviction and earlier asked for a mistrial because the jurors were looking away from the video in disgust. The lengthy footage showed Jones forcing the woman into sex as she cried and said “no,” and he even stopped at one point to conduct a separate drug deal.

Jones is scheduled for sentencing Dec. 12. Cespiva said he will ask that Jones be sentenced to 50 years in prison. Jones faces a separate trial next year on drug distribution charges.

The victim, meanwhile, is undergoing drug treatment.

“I’m convinced she’s on her way to sobriety,” prosecutor Terrell said.

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Mustian reported from New York. Contact AP’s global investigative team at Investigative@ap.org. Follow Jim Mustian on Twitter at @JimMustian.

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