Sex offender arrested
After trying to lure children waiting for school bus
|Photo provided by the St. Charles Parish Sheriff's Office|
Gary T. Norman
A Westwego man, who recently moved to Luling and is a convicted sex offender, attempted to lure St. Charles Parish school children into his vehicle while they waited for the school bus on the morning of Aug. 17 on Magnolia Ridge Road in Boutte.
Police began searching the area after a Court school bus driver broadcast over the police radio that he had been told by a student that a man was stopping at bus stops and trying to persuade the children to get in his car take a ride with him.
Driver Sgt Pink Duckworth, kept the alleged school bus stalker in sight and reported his whereabouts until deputies came. They found the green volvo and driver described by Duckworth at the Shell station on Hwy 90 in Boutte and arrested Gary T. Norman, 48.
Deputies reported he had a female passenger in his car when they stopped him and had been drinking alcohol. They also reported that Norman had on jeans with no underwear, and his pants were unzipped.
According to the reports, the female passenger in Norman's car, Monique Melford, 35, of Boutte, said he showed her his $2,000 payroll check and asked, "if she wanted to play." Melford said she was under the impression that he wanted to pay for sex.
Norman was arrested and charged with solicitation of a prostitute, DWI, and an open-container violation. “We are working closely with the DA to bring any charges that we can against this dirtbag to keep him behind bars,” said the Sheriff.
Norman refused to take a field sobriety test and would not submit to a Breathalyzer test once he arrived at the Nelson Coleman Correctional Facility, according to police. He is being held at the Nelsom Coleman Correctional Facility under an $80,000 bond issued by Judge Robert Chaisson. “If any new charges come up, a different bond will be set for each additional charge,” said Chaisson.
“We got phone calls that this guy was driving near bus stops and trying to talk to the kids,” said Champagne. “Norman has a lengthy criminal record but he quit having to register as a sex offender in 2005.”
Champagne said all previous crimes were committed outside St. Charles parish.
One of the children coerced was Leroy Johnson, 15, of Boutte, a Court School student, who said he was on his way to the bus stop when a white man approached him in his vehicle and held the door open so he could get in.
"I shook my head no, started running towards my house, and I looked back over my shoulder and watched the man going to the next stop where other children were waiting to catch the bus," he said.
"I had a feeling that he was up to something. It was a strange car, and hadn't been in the neighborhood before," he continued.
"He rolled down his window and kept staring at all the kids," Johnson told the Herald-Guide.
"I went back inside my house, and got a knife and put it in my pocket, just in case he tried to grab me or something," he said.
"I wasn't sure what he was going to do, he started coming towards my direction again," he continued.
"I dropped the knife on my porch and went back inside the house and told my grandparents," he said.
Johnson told his grandmother, Mary Johnson, about the suspicious vehicle, and took things a step further. Once on the school bus, he told his bus driver, Sgt. Pink Duckworth, what happened. That’s when Duckworth called in the incident to the sheriff’s office.
"There are a lot of strange people in the area," Mary Johnson, a lifelong resident of Boutte told the Herald-Guide.
"I taught all of my children and grandchildren that if they are ever approached by a stranger in a car or anybody that they don't know, run," she said.
"I'm proud of Leroy because this man might have taken someone's child and really done something bad and the situation could've turned out a lot worse," she continued.
"He listened to what I taught him and he did the right thing."
According to reports from other children who were eyewitnesses, Norman circled the block and stared at them.
According to the National Sex Offender Registry, Gary T. Norman was convicted of sexual battery 1993, completed his sentencing and fulfilled his obligation in 2003.
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On Sept. 20, Sheriff Greg Champagne posted on his Facebook page that there were several attempts to steal automobiles in the Luling, Boutte and Mimosa areas within a 10-day time frame.