Contact: Ken Daley, Public Information
District Attorney Leon Cannizzaro’s office on Tuesday (July 16) secured guilty pleas and a 20-year prison sentence for a convicted sex offender linked by DNA to the kidnappings and rapes of two New Orleans women in the past 20 years.
Juancheus “Juan” Ceasar averted a potential life sentence by entering into a plea agreement before ad hoc Criminal District Judge Dennis Waldron. Ceasar, 56, pleaded guilty to two counts each of second-degree rape and second-degree kidnapping after the charges were amended from aggravated versions of the offenses.
Ceasar, 56, was anticipating a 2024 release from the Elayn Hunt Correctional Center, where he has been serving a 12-year sentence stemming from a 2012 sexual assault conviction in St. John The Baptist Parish. However, a DNA sample taken from the LaPlace man in that case ultimately linked him to two unsolved New Orleans rapes that occurred on Aug. 11, 1999, and July 16, 2011.
“This conviction is yet another success for our SAKI unit,” Cannizzaro said, referring to his Sexual Assault Kit Initiative team that seeks to resolve New Orleans “cold case” rapes through the tracking and testing of scientific DNA evidence. “We are determined to achieve justice for sex crime victims whenever possible. And this is just another example of a rapist finding that he cannot escape our reach through the passage of time.”
In the August 1999 attack, a 31-year-old woman was walking to a friend’s house on Willow Street in Uptown New Orleans when she was abducted into a gray van occupied by three men. DNA results identified Ceasar as the man who raped the woman at knifepoint inside the vehicle.
This victim read an impact statement to Ceasar and the court Tuesday, describing her spiral of depression, substance abuse and family estrangement in the first seven years following her rape.
“My children were 9 and 3 years old when the attack happened,” the woman said. “For seven years, I was only present for events such as birthdays and holidays. I always felt a great deal of shame when I was around them. I no longer feel ashamed or blame myself for walking that night. I still experience panic and anxiety attacks, and it is difficult to deal with at times.
“For 19 years and 11 months, I have carried this burden. Today, I am laying it down. … Today is a new day for me, and you no longer get to rob me of anything.”
In the July 2011 attack, a 25-year-old woman walking near North Broad Street and A.P. Tureaud Avenue was approached by a man in a truck. The woman said she was grabbed, pulled inside, and raped inside the rear cab of the truck before she managed to escape through a window. DNA results again linked Ceasar to the sexual assault.
Assistant District Attorneys Mary Glass and Naomi Jones of Cannizzaro’s SAKI unit prosecuted the case. Louisiana State Police DNA specialist Myles Robichaux and NOPD detectives Jounay Ross and Rob Long joined in the investigation, which resulted in a March 2019 grand jury indictment.
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