A Cleveland County jury found a Noble man guilty Thursday on 10 child molestation charges and recommended 415 years in prison.
The six-man, six-woman jury deliberated for slightly more than an hour before returning to the courtroom where Cleveland County District Judge Thad Balkman read the verdicts aloud. Balkman announced the formal sentencing will occur 4 p.m. on April 1. The judge also ordered a pre-sentence investigation by the Oklahoma Department of Corrections.
The defendant, Christopher Leo Louive, 33, was found guilty of multiple counts of forcible oral sodomy, committing lewd or indecent acts to a child under 16, and performing lewd acts in the presence of a minor. Louive was the live-in boyfriend of the girl's mother.
The Transcript chooses to withhold the names of sexual assault victims.
Louive shook his head slightly as Balkman read the verdicts and then took a deep breath when the judge was finished. The jury found Louive not guilty on one count of performing a lewd act in the presence of a minor. That allegation involved the viewing of a pornographic video. The girl was 8-years-old when she was sexually assaulted. She is now 11.
Co-defense counsel Kevin Findlay declined to comment on the jury's verdicts. Assistant District Attorney Jennifer Austin, the lead prosecutor in the case, was unavailable for comment.
During closing arguments, Austin urged the jury to punish Louive with the maximum number of years allowed by law.
"Take into consideration her age and that it happened in her own home," the prosecutor said. "When you lock the doors to your home you expect to be safe and she wasn't. This was done to her by a man she called 'dad.' It happened over an extended period of time."
Austin also reminded jurors that Louive stole from the victim a part of her life she will be unable to duplicate.
"He took her first sexual experience and she can never get that back. What do you sentence this man to? You should give him as many years as you think is appropriate," she said.
The jury followed her advice by handing down 50-year punishments on seven counts of performing lewd or indecent acts to a child under 16. Jurors also recommended the maximum of 20 years in prison on each of two counts of forcible oral sodomy. A 25-year recommendation was made by jurors after finding Louive guilty of placing his tongue in the victim's mouth.
Louive will be ordered to serve 85% of the prison term the judge imposes on April 1.
During his closing arguments, Finlay repeatedly told jurors that the case hinged on the victim's testimony and her forensic interview conducted at the Mary Abbott Children's House in Norman. At the same time, he attacked the police investigation by Noble Detective Matt Stephens who admitted he did not take photographs of the three Noble homes where the molestations occurred, interview the victim's family members or try to obtain search warrants for the three different homes.
"There's zero corroboration of the victim's story," Findlay said. "The detective has left you with two stories that are uncorroborated."
Findlay also criticized Christy Cornett, the Abbott House forensic interviewer who talked to the victim on two separate occasions. Findlay claimed to the jurors that Stephens and Cornett conspired to concoct an agenda "and knew where they wanted the [forensic] interview to go."
Stephens arranged for the victim to be interviewed by Cornett at the Abbott House. The Mary Abbott Children’s House is a safe place for children to tell their stories regarding sexual and physical abuse and neglect, as well as children who are a witness to crime and in drug endangered situations.
During her first forensic interview, the victim told Cornett about several instances when she was sexually molested by her mother's boyfriend.
Findlay claimed in his closing argument that jurors were given inconsistent stories by prosecutors and the victim's testimony since the trial started.
However, prosecutor Austin fired back in her closing argument, telling jurors that the victim's family members could not have provided additional information because they weren't present when the sex crimes occurred.
"She [victim] told you what happened. She would know who molested her. None of these other people could have told you what happened," Austin said. "This crime is committed without anyone else present. It's a great crime for a child molester."
Austin also downplayed the defense team's argument that the victim and her mother made up the allegations. The assistant DA claimed to the jury that the victim cared for the defendant but "she just didn't want him doing these things to her."
The prosecutor also defended some of the victim's inconsistent statements about some details surrounding the molestations due to the amount of time since they occurred. Prosecutors alleged the crimes took place between November 2015 and October 2017.
"The details may fade, but the actual events stay with you," Austin said. "It comes down to the word of this child. There are (sensory) details she can talk about because they happened to her body. She could only give descriptions of the molestations if they occurred to her."
But, Austin said, the specific dates and locations of the crimes are easy to forget especially if the victim is a child.
"Is it reasonable for her to remember all of those things?" she asked.