Contact: Ken Daley, Public Information
District Attorney Leon Cannizzaro’s office on Monday (July 1) secured a guilty plea and 10-year prison sentence for a man who sexually assaulted a woman as she walked to a friend’s home in the Lower Garden District in December 2017.
Elvis Gavarette averted an upcoming trial for attempted second-degree rape by pleading guilty to two amended counts of sexual battery. Gavarette, 30, received a 10-year prison term and must register as a sex offender upon release, as part of the plea agreement approved by both his victim and Criminal District Judge Tracey Flemings-Davillier.
“I am pleased that we have removed this dangerous sexual predator from New Orleans’ streets,” Cannizzaro said. “This defendant represents a woman’s worst fear: That a complete stranger might attack them at random simply because he has sensed an opportunity. I am grateful to the cooperative witnesses who intervened to cut this assault short, and to the very courageous victim whose strength and resolve was crucial in
attaining this conviction.”
The 25-year-old victim was walking to a friend’s home from a nearby bar when she was confronted by Gavarette in the 900 block of Race Street around 2:43 a.m. on Dec. 16, 2017. He intercepted her as she tried to cross the street away from the stranger, tried to kiss her, and pursued her when she ran. The attacker pushed the woman against a parked vehicle and sexually assaulted her. As she squirmed away, Gavarette threw her
to the ground and assaulted her again.
The woman’s screams drew the attention of two women living in a nearby house. They confronted the attacker, forcing him to cut short his attack and flee. Gavarette ran, but not before also attempting to grope one of witnesses.
DNA evidence recovered from the victim was sent to the Louisiana State Police crime lab, which in February 2018 returned a likely match to a sample from Gavarette stored in the federal CODIS database (Combined DNA Index System). Gavarette, who also uses the alias Marvin Varela, was arrested in June 2018. A buccal swab collected in July 2018
confirmed the DNA match to the sample in the victim’s sexual assault kit.
Both witnesses were in court Monday to lend support as both the victim and her father read impact statements to the court.
The woman who was attacked told Gavarette, “Capturing the range of emotions I’ve felt, the relentless challenges in daily functioning, and the loss of trust in myself and others that I’ve experienced is impossible. The night you assaulted me changed everything. … Time changes when you don’t know how much harm someone intends to inflict on you, when you wonder how much physical and sexual violence will be enough for this
Flemings-Davillier commended the women who heard and intervened to end the attack, calling them the victim’s “she-roes.”
Assistant District Attorneys Mary Glass and Naomi Jones of the OPDA’s SAKI unit (Sexual Assault Kit Initiative) prosecuted the case.
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