Daniel Duplaisir pleaded guilty to one count of extortion today, admitting in federal court that he pretended to be a 16-year-old girl during sexually explicit online chats with a Texas A&M professor who later threw himself off a parking garage roof. U.S. District Court Judge Lynn Hughes scheduled sentencing for Sept. 16.
Duplaisir, a 37-year-old New Orleans-area transgender man who also goes by the name "Danielle Mosvoni," had pleaded not guilty after his arrest in March, but changed his mind last week. He's been in federal custody since his arrest.
In a letter he wrote to a woman from jail, Duplaisir, who opened Facebook and MySpace accounts as Mosvoni in 2009, explained that he considered himself to be transgender since the age of five.
"I was beaten for it, and I learned how to hide it," he wrote. "...I walked away from my male life a long time ago."
According to authorities, Duplaisir not only pretended to be a 16-year-old girl with Professor James Aune, but also masqueraded as the girl's angry father, and used that persona to demand nearly $5,000 from Aune in lieu of telling the police. Law enforcement officials were able to trace text messages and e-mails between Aune and the fictional father and daughter to Duplaisir, a self-employed housepainter in Metairie, Louisiana.
Duplaisir had previously been charged with aggravated incest and oral sexual battery in Tangipahoa Parish, Louisiana, in 2011, but the charges were dropped in February 2012 for lack of evidence, according to a spokeswoman for the 21st Judicial District Attorney's Office.
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The alleged victim was a 16-year-old girl who claimed to be his daughter; however, the girl's mother told the Houston Press that she was not Duplaisir's biological daughter. The girl, now 18, told the Press that she ran away after giving statements to the authorities because she was too scared to face Duplaisir in court. (The aforementioned jailhouse letter was from Duplaisir to the mother of his accuser.)
The girl told Louisiana authorities in 2011 that she and Duplaisir had scammed men the same way Duplaisir would later be accused of scamming Aune. However, Duplaisir denied this in his letter to the girl's mother: "Never done this scam before." He also wrote that he saw a videotape of the girl's statement to authorities, and he claimed to spot "six contradicting lies in the first 20 minutes and two provable lies in the end."
Aune originally met Duplaisir while seeking transgender men on a Web site catering to gay males, his widow told the Press. He used his real name and photograph on the site, and also went by the handle "Texas Top."
You can read more about the sad, twisted tale of Aune and Duplaisir in Wednesday's feature story.