Marrero is an area in Jefferson Parish, New Orleans just south of the Mississippi River.
Gaston will not be eligible for probation, parole or suspended sentence, Judge Ellen Kovach of the 24th Judicial District Court said in announcing the punishment. She acknowledged that "it might seem ridiculous" to inform Gaston that he would have to register as a sex offender for the rest of his life, if he ever gets out of prison. But the law requires the notification in court, she said.
Gaston was convicted Wednesday of sexual battery, production of pornography, video voyeurism and obstruction of justice. Prosecutors had charged him with aggravated rape of the girl, daughter of his friend. Gaston denied consummating a rape, and the jury decided he committed the lesser crime of sexual battery.
NOLA.com | The Times-Picayune generally does not identify victims of sexual abuse. The girl's mother said in testimony Tuesday that Gaston's behavior shattered her trust in men who are around her daughter.
"It makes you look at everybody," she said. "It has taught me, though, it taught me to be more wise, to pay more attention, to pray. I will tell you this, me and my family forgive you for what you did. You hurt all of us. You hurt your mother, too. Your mother didn't raise you that way. I'm hurting for her, too."
She also expressed concern for Gaston. "He could sit there forever" in prison, she said. "I'm so worried about him getting his help."
Gaston's crimes came to light last year, when the mother found an image of a partially nude girl in his vehicle. The mother recognized the child and investigated further, eventually finding lurid images on Gaston's flash drive data storage device.
Detectives found thousands of images. Assistant District Attorney Jeff Hufft said that in some cases, Gaston positioned his phone in a bathroom so he could record videos of girls using the toilet.
|St John Bosco Church, Marrero, Louisiana|
Gaston did not dispute his guilt of the child pornography, video voyeurism and obstruction of justice charges. Authorities say he obstructed justice by destroying his computer, on which he was suspected of storing other illegal images.
But his attorney, Davidson Ehle, urged jurors to reject the aggravated rape charge, which upon conviction carries a mandatory life sentence in prison.
Kovach sentenced Gaston to 60 years in prison for sexual battery and child pornography, and 10 years for video voyeurism. She ran those sentences concurrent. She then sentenced Gaston to 20 years for the obstruction conviction and ran it consecutive, bringing the punishment to 80 years.