In a surprise move, the former teacher, principal, marriage and family counselor accused of sexually abusing juveniles pleaded guilty in Caddo District Court this afternoon.
Dr. Robert Minniear, 84, was arrested in August for molestation of a juvenile, and again in September on additional charges. He has been held at Caddo Correctional Center on $900,000 bond ever since.
Today a 412.2 hearing was on the docket to determine whether the testimony of additional victims whose cases had passed Louisiana’s statute of limitations law could be included in his trial on the charges from late summer. Today’s hearing was scheduled back on Nov. 27 by Blewer, after more victims came forward following media reports of Minniear’s initial arrest in 2017.
Those victims were in the courtroom today and ready to take the stand, but instead, prosecutor Ed Blewer and Minniear’s lawyer Marty Stroud, told Caddo District Judge Ramona Emanuel they had struck a plea agreement.
Stroud, was detained on other cases in Bossier District Court, so the hearing kicked off an hour later than its scheduled 2 p.m. start time. It was only after Stroud arrived that Minniear was brought in from the holding cell where he was kept until his attorney showed up.
In his previous two court appearances, Minniear carried a cane, wore shackles and handcuffs attached to a leather belt around his orange jumpsuit. Today, he wore a red jumpsuit and was in a wheelchair, pushed by a Caddo Parish deputy. His hands were bound with handcuffs.
In conjunction with his guilty plea, Minniear agreed to serve 50 years at hard labor in prison, without possibility of parole, probation or suspension of sentence, which based on his age, amounted to a life sentence.
In addition, the minor child was spared from testifying, and all alleged victims and families were spared long, drawn out court proceedings leading up to the actual trial.
However, the court was not spared from hearing a graphic account of Minniear’s behavior with the minor child. In addition to reading the charge Minniear pleaded guilty to, Brewer read a detailed account of “the lewd and lascivious acts” the elderly counselor committed “on (the child) and in (the child’s) presence” that appeared in the police report made at the time of Minniear’s original arrest.
The soft weeping of adult victims who remembered similar events from their childhoods underscored Blewer’s voice as he read some of the specifics included in the police report, such as how Minniear built the child’s trust, encouraging the boy to call him “Grandpa Robert,” and engaging in back scratching and ultimately, “kissing on the lips,” that accelerated to behavior that included watching pornography together, showering together at a number of places, including the home of the child’s adopted father, and Minniear’s home and car.
In addition, Minniear bought the child gifts, that included beer and cigarettes and iPad so lewd video could be exchanged.
At the conclusion of Blewer’s account, presiding Judge Ramona Emanuel asked Minniear if the facts read by Blewer were “true and correct,” and he answered in the affirmative. She then asked him if he understood the nature of his crime, and again he answered “yes.”
Following Emanuel’s acceptance of Minniear’s guilty plea and imposition of his sentence, Stroud stood and read a prepared statement expressing Minniear’s remorse for hurting so many who had put their faith and trust in him. In the statement, Stroud said Minniear hoped today’s guilty plea would give closure “to those he has hurt.” He concluded his remarks by saying “forgiveness is the most powerful tool we have…” and then said, “Robert Minniear asks for forgiveness of everyone in this courtroom.”
Minnear served as a teacher and principal at the now closed St. Pius X Catholic School in north Shreveport. After earning his doctorate degree, he became a licensed marriage and family counselor.