Court worker gets house arrest for patronizing prostitute
He lost his courthouse job, his marriage was strained, and he was publicly vilified and humiliated. All in all, Jean Maurice Casseus' sentence of six to 12 months of house arrest and four years' probation Friday for patronizing a prostitute he later learned was 15 years old was anticlimactic.
He lost his courthouse job, his marriage was strained, and he was publicly vilified and humiliated.
All in all, Jean Maurice Casseus' sentence of six to 12 months of house arrest and four years' probation Friday for patronizing a prostitute he later learned was 15 years old was anticlimactic.
Even Philadelphia Common Pleas Court Judge Sandy L.V. Byrd noted that "some might say he has paid quite a heavy price" for the June 7, 2012, rendezvous at the Days Inn on Roosevelt Boulevard near Adams Avenue in Crescentville.
"Your honor, I am sorry that we are in this situation today because of a mistake I made in my life," said Casseus, 51, adding, "I have learned a great lesson from that mistake."
Casseus, a Haitian who is a naturalized U.S. citizen living in Mayfair, told Byrd he wants to resume his life in the Haitian community and his church: "I want to share my experience with my community and especially with the young people out there."
Defense attorney Ronald A. Smith urged a nonprison sentence, adding that Casseus had been forgiven by his wife, his three young children, and the congregation of Shekina Seventh-day Adventist Church in Mayfair, where "he is an active and respected member."
Smith said Casseus had started a mobile car-wash business since his firing.
"I don't think this gentleman will ever be back before you again," Smith said.
At the time of his arrest, Casseus was a seven-year, $50,000-a-year human resources employee for the First Judicial District - the Philadelphia court system.
He was charged with a long list of crimes, and prosecutors alleged he raped the prostitute knowing she was 15 and after posing as a police officer. The District Attorney's Office publicly asked other victims to come forward, calling Casseus a "suspected serial sexual predator."
None of that proved true, said Byrd, who acquitted Casseus of 10 charges and found him guilty of patronizing a prostitute at a nonjury trial in February.
Byrd said the woman told Casseus she was 19 and "consented to sex for the payment of a monetary fee. That happens in our society, and it undermines the humanity of the victim."
In addition to his public job, what may have put Casseus' case under greater scrutiny was that the girl worked for the notorious pimp Craig Johnson, who prosecutors say specialized in underage girls who were runaways from foster care.
Johnson, now 44, was arrested in June 2012 in Bucks County, pleaded guilty, and was sentenced in May 2013 to 16 to 40 years in prison. Later in 2013, he was sentenced in federal court to a concurrent 24 years in prison for sex trafficking of children. He is in the state prison at Fayette, near Pittsburgh.
Assistant District Attorney Rochelle Keyhan said the prostitute in Casseus' case was abandoned at a young age and had been with hundreds of men by the time she met Casseus.
Keyhan asked for a state prison sentence - more than two years - and criticized Casseus for fueling the prostitution business and betraying his court-system job: "He exemplifies why people have doubts about the system."
Byrd complimented Keyhan's "zealous prosecution," but added that he believed she had conflated Johnson's case with that of one of his johns.
"His great misfortune was to patronize a prostitute who turned out to be something other than what she said - a minor," Byrd added.
Two years after Casseus' arrest, the Philadelphia District Attorney's Office and Municipal Court created a diversion program focusing on men who patronize prostitutes and are arrested.
The program for first offenders stresses that "they are not just buyers in a free market, but part of a social problem."