Stalking, harassment and spying devices Christopher Dupuy used to track victims were all part of a Wednesday hearing during which the ousted judge was sentenced to 12 years in prison for posting photos of ex-girlfriends on a website falsely advertising escort services.
Earlier in the day, a jury of six men and six women had found Dupuy guilty on two counts of online impersonation stemming from a July 2015 arrest. He was sentenced to six years for each count, to be served concurrently, and would receive a little less than two years’ credit for time already served.
Dupuy, who once presided over a county court at-law, was convicted of posting photos from a woman’s Facebook page, as well as naked photos another woman had sent him, as advertisements on Backpage, a website offering escort and sex services, according to court records. Federal law officers seized Backpage and shut it down in April as part of a wide-ranging investigation into prostitution and human trafficking.
Houston attorney Simone Bray, who led the defense, had argued to jurors the case against Dupuy was an elaborate conspiracy, perhaps cooked up by his former girlfriends and others, and that a weak investigation left plenty of reasonable doubt to acquit her client.
“It’s your duty to tell the state to do a better job,” she told jury members.
Prosecutors, led by Assistant District Attorney Adam Poole, on the other hand, kept it simple. Jurors should focus on such forensic evidence as Dupuy’s web searches, which matched exactly the names of the Backpage ads.
“You don’t need a conspiracy to explain this,” Poole said.
Bray highlighted both Dupuy’s non-violent past and history as a judge who respected justice, while Poole pointed to his record of abusing his position on the bench and stalking people who crossed him.
“This man isn’t violent,” Bray said during her closing arguments. “He’s not a flight risk. He’s not a person who will go out and hurt people.” She asked Judge Vanessa Velasquez for leniency, requesting Dupuy be sentenced either to the minimum two years or to probation.
Prosecutors asked for the maximum 10 years on each count.
“He never stops stalking one person until he starts stalking someone else,” Poole told Velasquez. “This is a man that’s not going to stop. This is not your typical case and not your typical defendant — probation and two years are out of the equation.”
Velasquez heard from a string of witnesses for the prosecution, including a woman who Dupuy is charged with stalking in Harris County, his former wife, Adrienne Viterna, and Lori Laird, the attorney who represented Viterna during her divorce from Dupuy.
Viterna told Velasquez she had tried to divorce Dupuy for years because of the psychological and emotional harm. She accused Dupuy of hiding listening devices around their house to spy on her. Meanwhile, Laird said he used his position as a judge to retaliate against her for the role she played in the divorce.
After Velasquez announced the sentence, Dupuy was given a chance to make a statement. Subdued and tearful, he apologized to his victims and anyone he offended or hurt with his actions.