[Editor's Note: This story has been updated to reflect new information and comments from Louisiana State Police Troop I spokesman Stephen Hammons.]

Philip_DeMahy
               Philip DeMahy image from Facebook

The arrest of the brother of a district court judge from New Iberia for allegedly possessing child pornography has escaped the attention of local media, raising the question: Is the suspect being treated with kid gloves by deferential media and local and state authorities?

The Iberia Parish Sheriff’s Office confirmed this morning that Philip deMahy Sr., brother of 16th Judicial District Judge Paul deMahy, was arrested by Louisiana State Police — the agency that typically handles sex-crimes — on Nov. 5, charged with the possession of child pornography. The parish jail verified deMahy was released that same day — within an hour of his booking — on a $10,000 bond.

deMahy’s arrest warranted no press release from State Police, which often alerts the media of sex-related crimes. The incident also failed to get local media attention, aside from a brief listing printed in a Daily Iberian arrest report.

State Police Troop I spokesman Stephen Hammons tells IND Monthly:

State Police received info that deMahy was in possession of child pornography. We began investigating and were able to gather evidence indicating that he was. A search warrant was obtained for his residence. We executed the warrant and seized digital media storage devices. State Police conducted a forensic analysis and only recovered information to charge him with one count of (possessing) child pornography, but the report does list [that] 30 images and videos depicting prepubescent children engaged in sexually explicit acts were found.

Hammons says deMahy is being charged with one count because the forensic analysis could not determine when the images were downloaded. For example, had there been evidence the images were downloaded on three separate dates, deMahy would likely have faced a count of possession for each day he dowloaded images. 

Hammons also notes that press releases are not issued for every single arrest made by State Police. He says each arrest is evaluated on a case-by-case basis, without bias, to determine the ones that stand out and are unique from the rest. A case in which there is a victim or in which hundreds of images are recovered wouldy typically warrant a release. 

"Who a person is related to, or their status in the community, that doesn't determine if we put out a press release," Hammons says. "This case did not have any unique attributes from other cases to warrant a press release, but when we're asked for info, we will give out details for things that are public record. Would it be unbiased if we put something out there just because of who this guy's brother is?"

In addition to being the brother of a district judge, deMahy, 51, is a former chairman of the Greater Iberia Chamber of Commerce and a former president of the Catholic High of New Iberia's school board. He also is a political consultant, hired to run the 2008 re-election campaign for District Attorney Phil Haney, who has since recused his office from prosecuting the case. The case has been turned over to Attorney General Buddy Caldwell's office.

Yet, the case will remain in the 16th JDC, despite the fact that Philip deMahy's brother is a judge there.

The case has been assigned to Judge John Conery, who spoke with IND Monthly Monday morning.

Although Conery is set to leave the 16th JDC next year — he will be sworn-in Jan. 1 after running unopposed for a seat on the 3rd Circuit Court of Appeals —  he says it appears deMahy may plea before he even makes his first court appearance, tentatively scheduled for Dec. 11.

“His lawyer is in negotiations for a plea,” says Conery. “There were no victims involved, so he could get a suspended sentence of up to five years.”

If so, that equates to a pretty good deal for deMahy, who, based on the charges, faces an actual sentencing range of up to 10 years in prison. A Lake Charles man charged with possessing child pornography recently got five years in federal court, without the benefit of a suspended sentence. For deMahy, a suspended sentence would mean no jail time. deMahy

One difference between the two cases is that the Lake Charles man was sentenced in federal court, whereas deMahy’s future will be determined in the same district court where his brother is a judge.

DeMahy’s lawyer is Lafayette criminal defense attorney Thomas Guilbeau. IND Monthy left a message Monday morning with Guilbeau’s office, but as of 1 p.m., he had yet to call back.

Amanda Larkins, communications director for the AG’s office, writes in an email that deMahy’s case “is still being reviewed to determine the appropriate charges.”

Here, here, here and here are similar arrests that did result in the issuance of State Police press releases by various troops throughout the state.

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