#minorsextrafficking | Man who pleaded guilty to kidnapping, attempted rape of 16-year-old girl, sentenced to 20 years | Courts


Three years after Louisiana State Police alleged she was kidnapped, beaten and raped by a New Orleans man, the 19-year-old survivor rose in court Thursday to face the man who held her captive for weeks.

Ever since she escaped from Melvin Davis and his co-defendant, Jonquil Otis, she said she has struggled to know whether “I was good enough for a man to love me.”

On Thursday, Davis, 45, was sentenced to 20 years in prison, after his attorneys struck a plea deal with prosecutors. 

He had been charged with a bevy of offenses, including second-degree rape and second-degree kidnapping, which both carry a maximum sentence of 40 years. This week, he pleaded guilty to reduced charges that included simple kidnapping, human trafficking, attempted third-degree rape and attempted pornography involving a juvenile. He also pleaded guilty to possession with intent to distribute marijuana and illegally carrying a weapon, which both carry a maximum sentence of 20 years.

As she sentenced him to the maximum allowed by law, Orleans Parish Criminal District Court Judge Rhonda Goode-Douglas said, “If I had my way, you would be doing a lot more time.”

Louisiana State Police alleged in 2019 that Davis held the then 16-year-old girl captive for weeks at a home in New Orleans as he beat and raped her. Davis and Otis were arrested in March 2019 after the girl escaped. 

In her impact statement Thursday, she said that she suffered from debilitating anxiety and depression after her captivity.

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“There were some days I didn’t feel good about myself, or I just felt like I was a man’s sex toy,” she said, reading from a piece of paper so quickly that a court reporter requested she slow down. “I’ve been living day by day to see if anything will change, but it hasn’t.”

Otis pleaded guilty last year to human trafficking, felony carnal knowledge of a juvenile and trafficking of children for sex purposes. She was sentenced to seven years in prison.

In a prepared statement, First Assistant District Attorney Ned McGowan said that the office “is proud to secure the convictions of two defendants responsible for trafficking a juvenile, amongst other offenses, in a way that best served the interests of the victim in this case.”

As the survivor stepped down from the witness stand, Goode-Douglas commended her bravery for coming to court.

“I can’t tell you how brave I think you are for facing Mr. Davis and your fears,” Goode-Douglas told her. “Please know that you are worthy, and that you are loved.”

Correction: An earlier version of this article misidentified the gender of Jonquil Otis.

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