Pineville man sentenced for Feb. 2022 rape at local bar
RAPIDES PARISH, La. (KALB) - A Pineville man has been sentenced to seven years in prison and must register as a sex offender for life for a March 9, 2023, jury conviction of third-degree rape.
Aaron Shelby Stewart, 31, had no visible reaction as the sentence was handed down on Monday afternoon by Judge Patricia Koch in the Rapides Parish courthouse.
The Rapides Parish District Attorney’s Office said testimony showed Stewart, who was a patron of the bar, followed a 26-year-old woman into the bathroom of East Side Daiquiris on Highway 28 East in Pineville on Feb. 4, 2022, and sexually assaulted her. The case was investigated by the Pineville Police Department.
Ahead of the sentencing, a victim impact statement was read by a victim’s rights advocate for the district attorney’s office on behalf of the victim.
“I no longer go to bars with friends and keep to myself more than before,” the statement read. “I fight to keep my spirits up and then reality hits. I was assaulted. [...] I beat myself up. I wasn’t loud enough or strong enough.”
In arguing for a 25 year sentence, Assistant District Attorney Brian Cespiva said he was moved by the victim’s testimony.
“She now sleeps with the lights on,” said Cespiva. “This has had a serious impact on her lifestyle. She’s now unemployed and living with her parents. A light sentence would deprecate what this did to her.”
Cespiva also pointed out that while Stewart had no previous sexual assault allegations, this was his fifth felony.
Stewart’s defense attorney, Chad Guillot, wanted a much lighter sentence - 18 months.
“Mr. Stewart’s opinion was that it was consensual,” said Guillot. “These were two competent adults. The only issue was consent.”
Guillot said it was also unlikely that Stewart would reoffend.
“An 18 month sentence would shock my conscious and anyone else’s,” said Cespiva of the recommendation by the defense.
Ultimately, Judge Koch came back with a seven year sentence.
“Some of the things that were clear to me were that perhaps there was flirting, but no means no,” she told Stewart. “When women say ‘no,’ it means ‘no.’ My concern is that she (victim) lives with this every single day and will for the rest of her life. [...] I think 18 months is certainly not enough to say he learned a lesson. [...] There were points along the way you (Stewart) could go - this is not a good idea. It never stopped you, Mr. Stewart.”
Judge Koch said it did concern her that it was Stewart’s fifth felony conviction, but also noted that the prior crimes were not sex crimes. The third-degree rape conviction was classified as a crime of violence.
As she wrapped up, Judge Koch gave Stewart the paperwork he would need to register as a sex offender - noting it would impact him for the rest of his life, from where he worked to where he lived.
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