JPSO: Investigation Ongoing in Rape Case; Evidence Collected

UPDATE March 11 1:10 p.m.: Jackson Parish Sheriff Andy Brown says they've finish collecting evidence in an ongoing rape investigation.

The alleged incident happened last month at the home of Jonesboro Councilman Lastevic Cottonham's home.

Sheriff Brown says the evidence has been turned over to the crime lab and they'll await the results.

One suspect, Cornelius Boston, was arrested and charged with simple rape.

No other arrests have been made.

Jackson Parish -- The Jackson Parish Sheriff's Office is investigating a rape that occurred during a party at a Jonesboro councilman's home this weekend.

Jackson Parish authorities say a young woman, whose identity is not being released, drove herself to a Jonesboro emergency room on Sunday morning.

What hospital staff discovered is horrific.

"The severity of her wounds, it was very bad. Her injuries were so brutal, that I consider them kind of animalistic," said Jackson Parish Sheriff Andy Brown.

Officials say she appeared incoherent and severely sexually battered.

Authorities are now tracing this back to a party at Jonesboro councilman LaStevic Cottonham's house. Sheriff Brown said the last place witnesses saw her was at that party -- walking into a locked room with 33-year old Cornelius Boston of Ruston.

"Who we think is the key ingredient to this sexual assault," said Brown. "We're a long ways from through, even though we made an arrest, we will get to the bottom of it."

Boston was arrested and charged with simple rape. His bond at Jackson Parish Correctional Center is set at $50,000.

Sheriff Brown would not detail the extent of the woman's injuries, but describes the assault as "brutal."

"I've been here for many years, and the detective working this has been here many years, and we both agree, we've not seen anything in a sexual case this violent," he said. "She still has rights as a human being. We can't look past this and we will get to the bottom of this."

Sheriff Brown also says it's also possible the victim was drugged at the time of the assault.

"We do feel like she was under the influence of something," he said. "She's still somewhat incoherent and we're not getting a whole lot out of her, but over a period of time we plan to talk to her."

Sheriff Brown says Boston denies raping the victim, but is giving conflicting stories.

"It bothers me that someone would not be compassionate enough to help her or would be so non-compassionate to do that to her," said Brown. "We're going to look at all the evidence, there may be something that points to other individuals that get arrested."

Investigators are collecting DNA from several individuals who were at Cottonham's home. This will help them determine if others were involved in the assault.

The sheriff says councilman Cottonham is fully cooperating with authorities. Sheriff brown says Cottonham stated he was at home, but was unaware of the assault taking place.

Councilman Lastevic Cottonham tells KTVE 10 - Fox 14 "I send my condolences and prayers out to this young lady and her family during this time. I am doing everything I can to cooperate with police to bring this person to justice."

"Cottonham as far as I know has provided the same evidence, DNA to the detective, and he's been cooperative in coming up giving us a statement," Brown said.

Officials say despite the arrest, the case is no where near finished.

"We're going to do our job the best we can here because she does have rights and we're going protect her rights," Brown said. "We're going to bring justice to this for her."

Investigators said it's unknown how long she was in the room or how she managed to get out.

Investigators will continue interviewing witnesses.

"If we learn that these people or owner of this home did not render help to her, there may be more charges coming," said Brown.

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