Educator Pleads No Contest in Sex Case
Plea Gets Man Suspended Sentence
By Stephanie A. Stanley
The Times-Picayune [New Orleans, LA]
January 15, 2000
Richard J. Langenstein, the popular Catholic educator accused two years ago of engaging in sexual activities with a teen-age boy, pleaded no contest Friday to a charge of indecent behavior with a juvenile.
Langenstein's plea in a Covington courtroom was not an admission of guilt, but rather a capitulation that his defense would be difficult at trial, said his attorney, Marion Farmer. The proceeding waives his right to a trial and sentences him as if he were guilty.
"We felt like there were some aspects of the case that were difficult, that would be hard to explain," Farmer said.
The acts allegedly occurred with a 15-year-old boy who was a student at Covington High School, where Langenstein was a volunteer teacher in 1995 and 1996.
State Judge Raymond Childress sentenced Langenstein, 64, to three years of a suspended sentence and five years of probation. He faced up to seven years of jail if convicted of the charge.
Langenstein also must pay a $5,000 fine, submit to a mental health evaluation and any subsequent treatment, have no contact with the alleged victim and no interaction with other juveniles. In addition, he must register as a sex offender.
"This wraps up the criminal part of the case," Farmer said. "But we still have the civil case that this guy filed."
A few months after Langenstein's arrest, the boy's parents, whom The Times-Picayune are not identifying to protect his identity, filed a civil suit against Langenstein.
The suit says Langenstein ingratiated himself with the teen-ager in 1996 by buying him expensive gifts, giving him money and taking him on a trip to Mississippi casinos. On the trip back, the suit alleges, Langenstein parked on a side street and sexually abused the teen.
On another occasion, the suit says, Langenstein took pictures of the teen's "genitals exposed in a lewd manner at Langenstein's home."
Farmer said Langenstein intends to fight the civil case, which was a partial motivation for the no-contest plea, which cannot be used against him in civil court.
"We think a large part of this case is about money," Farmer said.
Not long before the youth made his accusations against Langenstein, he was arrested for stealing items from Langenstein's home, officials said. The teen told investigators that he stole, then later pawned, the items because he was angry at Langenstein, Farmer said.
Before moving to Mandeville in 1994, Langenstein, a retired member of the Christian Brothers order, had spent 35 years in private education as a high school teacher, counselor, principal and college vice president.
Since his retirement, he also has worked at Saint Paul's School in Covington, and volunteered as a substitute teacher and field-trip chaperone at Covington High School.
Farmer said Langenstein no longer works as an educator or with children.
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