Judge gives maximum sentence to Joe Hunter Constance, 27, for child rape

Lake Charles, LA (KPLC) – Twenty-seven-year-old Joseph Hunter Constance has been sentenced to the maximum sentence of forty years in prison for raping a 13-year-old girl.

Judge Clayton Davis said the violence and devastation suffered by the victim and her family should not be minimized and the sentence was justified.

At trial, it emerged the victim only reported the rape after her 11-year-old sister – under anesthetic – revealed that Constance was saying inappropriate things to her and making her feel uncomfortable.

Prosecutor Hope Buford is section chief of the Special Victims Unit. She said she was proud that the victim had the courage to tell her story:

“The victim is the one who should get all the credit in this case. She was brave enough to come forward and tell the story of the rape that happened to her when she was 13,” Buford said.

However, defense attorney Todd Clemons called Constance’s accuser a liar.

“I’m going to call her a liar because I firmly believe she is a liar. I firmly believe that she falsely accused my client of raping her. So that’s why I wasn’t shy, I didn’t hesitate to call her a liar because that’s what I firmly believe, based on the evidence,” he said.

Still, Buford said all the victim, now 17, had to gain was justice that prevailed:

“We presented our case to twelve jurors, who were impartial and had never heard of this case. And they sat through three days of testimony and heard all the evidence presented and they were the ones who came back with a guilty verdict of second degree rape,” Buford said.

Clemons predicted the verdict will be overturned on appeal and the sentence will be overturned because he said the judge was biased and unfair.

“Joe Constance didn’t rape anyone. He was falsely accused of rape. He was wrongly convicted of rape. Joseph was deprived of his constitutional right to a fair trial,” Clemons said.

However, Buford took issue and denied that the state always gets what it wants. She predicted that the verdict and sentence would stand.

It will therefore be up to the Third Circuit to decide.

Clemons also said he was not allowed to ask the victim any questions he wanted while she was on the witness stand.

And he said there were flaws in the investigation that he was not allowed to ask about. Clemons said the victim said her phone was in the room during the rape, but there was no evidence officers tried to get the phone.

And he said investigators grabbed the top of the mattress, but there was no evidence it had been tested or what the tests had proven.

The district attorney’s office said Joe Hunter Constance is the nephew of longtime fugitive Joe Constance. The eldest Constance is wanted for the alleged murder of his ex-wife in 2011.

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Helen L. Cuellar