Local man convicted of sexual battery

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, January 28, 2003


HAHNVILLE – After his conviction this week, a Luling man faces sentencing Feb. 6 for carnal knowledge of a juvenile and oral sexual battery of a 13-year-old Boutte girl.

Ira Zeringue, 22, was tried before 29th Judicial District Judge Emile St. Pierre. He faces a maximum sentence of 20 years – 10 years for each offense – and revocation of parole on 1998 charges of burglary and arson.

Zeringue accepted the verdict in silence, while the victim and her mother hugged and cried. According to the testimony presented by prosecutor David Chaisson, Zeringue met the girl a few weeks prior to the May 14, 2002 crime, and she invited him into her bedroom, as her stepfather was sleeping and her mother was using a computer.

Zeringue had been staying at a Boutte motel after he moved out from his own parents’ house in Hahnville. He met the girl at a mutual friend’s home. A week or so prior to that incident, the girl testified, he invited the girl and her older stepbrother to his motel room to smoke marijuana. When the stepbrother left for more rolling papers, she said, Zeringue engaged in oral sex with the girl.

A week later, the eighth-grader invited him into her bedroom, where they again engaged in oral sex and vaginal sex. After that, the pair went to the back yard to smoke cigarettes. The mother stepped outside to smoke but noticed on the way the back door was unlocked. She saw her daughter, along with a man in the shadows of the house.

The mother angrily confronted her daughter, who told her Zeringue’s name, and she placed her daughter in the house, then looked for him. She testified she saw Zeringue walking under a street light, shirtless and shoeless.

A white T-shirt and a pair of shoes, identified as his own by Zeringue, were discovered in the house. Zeringue, on the other hand, claimed he had accepted a ride to his motel room from the girl and her stepbrother earlier in the day and accidentally left his shirt and shoes in the truck, having just retrieved the items of clothing from a relative. He said he was too drunk to recall later where the clothing had been forgotten, and only remembered while being questioned by police. Zeringue did produce a witness who testified she had arranged with him to meet at his room, arrived there but found him absent, then returned later upon his arrival.

Chaisson argued Zeringue was in route at the time of the witness’ first visit, walking back to his room from the victim’s residence.

Defense attorney Lauren Lemmon said the clothing was used by the girl’s family in an effort to frame him and disguise the fact the girl was having sex with her own stepbrother, something the mother only discovered months after the crime.