Man charged with 1st-degree rape

Published 6:46 am Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Bogalusa police arrested Donald Fontenot and charged him with first-degree rape after an alleged attack early Sunday morning.

Police Chief Joe Culpepper said officers received a call at around 4 a.m. Sunday that Fontenot, 62, of Bogalusa, was beating up a woman. Culpepper said the victim suffered minor injuries and was taken to the hospital.

Culpepper said the two people had been acquaintances.

First-degree rape is a felony.

The chief said this case is among the first cases in Bogalusa to utilize a new task force established for rape cases. The task force was established through the St. Tammany Parish Coroner’s Office through a grant.

“Instead of us using a nurse at the hospital to perform a forensic exam, the coroner’s office has a specially trained team … and a forensic RN comes and performs the rape kit on our victims,” he said.

The team has also been trained to offer counseling to victims.

Culpepper said the forensic RN has been trained in crime scene analysis and the presence of the specialty nurse means local healthcare providers will likely not have to provide testimony in court proceedings for rape cases.

Culpepper said he hopes the specialty unit can lead to more convictions.

“DNA is like fingerprints used to be,” he said. “When I first got here nobody could spell DNA. Now it seems like if you send in fingerprints from a crime scene and you sent in a rape kit from a victim … then you can probably get the response back faster on that than from the fingerprints.”