Guilty until proven innocent: Mason Troth’s nightmare fight against wrongful rape charges

Listen to our podcast episode where Mason Troth speaks out about what happened

FORDOCHE — In December 2023, Mason Troth made headlines when he was arrested and charged with first-degree rape and video voyeurism. The rape charge carries a mandatory life sentence upon conviction.

A woman in New Orleans accused the East Feliciana Sheriff’s deputy of rape and filming the encounter, leading to widespread coverage of his arrest. A simple Google search of Mason Troth brings up numerous headlines detailing the alleged crimes along with his mug shot.

However, the investigation into Troth’s alleged wrongdoing was flawed. Despite video evidence from that night, Troth claims he was presumed guilty from the outset and did not receive a fair investigation into the allegations.

Several months passed before the charges were dropped, technically clearing his record. Yet, Troth’s name remains tarnished.

For the first time, he’s speaking out about his arrest, his fight for justice, and his path forward.

“We talked about a meeting for a while”

Troth recounts meeting the woman on the dating app Tinder. Speaking on the Louisiana Unfiltered podcast with Kiran Chawla, he explained that they had been in contact for a few months before agreeing to meet at his house on December 9, 2023.

“We actually agreed on meeting on that day probably, I would say, a week in advance,” Troth said. “We talked about a meeting for a while, but that’s just kind of the first day that came up where both our schedules lined up.”

Troth stated that he finished work around 5 p.m. that day, and she arrived at his house between 7:30 and 8 p.m. They spent time talking and watching movies before things turned intimate.

According to Troth, their sexual encounter was consensual, a topic they had discussed extensively during their two months of communication.

“As far as I knew, it was basically going to be a hookup; it wasn’t going anywhere,” Troth acknowledged. “I think that’s what we both kind of wanted. We discussed a lot of things sexually. Sometimes, she was the one that brought it on, sometimes I was the one that initiated that conversation. There were a lot of things we talked about. One of the things I do remember, and I think is pretty pertinent, is she told me she liked to be videoed while having sex.”

Troth claims she even sent him videos of her engaging in sexual activities with others via Snapchat. So, when they moved to Troth’s bedroom, he admits to recording their intimate moments on his cell phone, something he says was actually the woman’s idea. He insists that the woman acknowledged his actions in the video, and even holds the phone at one point.

Afterward, Troth says she stayed a while longer before leaving.

“She left, and that was basically the end of that,” he said. “I didn’t have any contact with her after, and she didn’t have any contact with me.”

“They surrounded by house like I was Pablo Escobar”

Three days later, Troth’s life changed dramatically. Returning home from work and dozing off on his couch, he was awakened by a knock on his front door around 9:30 p.m. on December 12. Upon opening the door, he found Fordoche Police Chief Tait Slocum accompanied by half a dozen Pointe Coupee Parish Sheriff’s deputies.

“When I asked him what was going on, he told me he had a warrant for my arrest,” Troth recalls. “I asked him, ‘For what?’ and he told me for first-degree rape and video voyeurism. I was in a state of shock at this point. I thought I was having some kind of nightmare. I asked him, ‘For who?’ and he asked me if I met a girl from New Orleans the other night. I told him, ‘I did,’ and he said that she’s the one that made the complaint. From that point, I’m still in a state of shock. I’m saying out loud that this can’t be real. There were also about six sheriff’s deputies there. There were a few standing on the porch and a few surrounding my house. One of them told me to turn around and put my hands behind my back. So I complied, and they handcuffed me.”

Troth claims he asked for more details from Slocum regarding the accusation, with Slocum allegedly stating that the woman admitted to consented to sex “but not the kind you wanted.”

Troth found the extensive police presence during his arrest highly unusual, particularly given his clean record until that point.

“Basically, they surrounded my house like I was Pablo Escobar, like some kind of big criminal,” Troth said. “I don’t have anything on my record. I don’t even have a traffic ticket to my name, and a lot of these people know me. So, I just couldn’t really fathom why they would show up like that.”

“He was just unwilling to take a statement from me or anything”

Troth recounts offering his cell phone, containing a video of his sexual encounter with the woman, to police, specifically Chief Slocum. However, he claims he was rebuffed and advised to consult with a lawyer.

“I was sitting at the counter getting booked in, and I had to fill out a rights form, basically where I sign saying I understand my rights. And at the bottom, you are asked if you’d be willing to speak having these rights in mind. I told him, ‘Yes, absolutely, I’d like to speak.’ He said that he’s not going to talk to me. He said the best thing I could do is talk to a lawyer. I told him I was willing to speak to him about the whole answer and provide everything I had, that I felt could clear my name. And I was told he wouldn’t take any of it.”

Troth found this protocol unusual, particularly given the severity of the charges of first-degree rape.

“During an investigation, you want to get as much information as you possibly can. And that’s just one thing I can’t seem to understand. I’m willing to talk to you and give you my side of the story. There’s always three sides to every story. And he was just unwilling to take a statement from me or anything, look at anything I had.”

Mason Troth was booked on a Tuesday night, and his parents posted bail for him the following night. Surprisingly, the judge set the bond at $175,000, significantly lower than typical for the charges he was facing.

“While I was in there, (Judge Campbell said that based on the affidavit) that he sees a lot of problems with it. He says, basically from (the alleged victim’s) statement, he doesn’t see first-degree rape. He might see maybe second degree if her statement is true. But that’s why he told me he set the bond so low.”

Mason Troth also mentioned that the judge indicated another reason for the low bond was the apparent lack of an investigation.

From there, Troth hires an attorney, and District Attorney Tony Clayton’s office initiated a comprehensive reinvestigation of the case. Troth claims that the video footage of his encounter with the woman revealed her grabbing his phone at one point and possibly recording the encounter herself.

“I was questioned about that and basically from what I heard, Tony Clayton spoke to somebody with the Pointe Coupee Parish Sheriff’s office and asked if they could reinvestigate the whole thing basically. Because as far as I think, he kind of looked over everything and agreed that there’s not much there, you’re not going to win a case for first-degree rape or any kind of rape based off of what’s here because it’s basically just a statement.”

“I’m thinking of the possibility that I’m going away to prison for the rest of my life”

Mason Troth revealed that two months later, he was formally interviewed for the first time about the December incident, focusing primarily on the cell phone footage.

“I went in for my interview, (the detective) asked me a few questions pertaining to the cell phone footage, which basically captures the whole interaction between me and her. And he asked me just a few questions pertaining to that.”

Following the Pointe Coupee Parish Sheriff’s Office reinvestigation, the case was presented to a grand jury on March 5, 2024. They returned a “no true bill,” effectively clearing Mason Troth of all charges.

“It’s pretty easy to say if you’re innocent that you have nothing to worry about. This is not exactly true. I mean, having a life sentence hanging above your head for four months, every time I wake up, every time I go to sleep, I’m thinking of the possibility that I’m going away to prison for the rest of my life. And even at that point, even if I’m found innocent, if I got to go through a trial, a long drawn-out process, you know, basically illegal fees just to be found innocent and I’m gonna lose everything I have, everything I’ve worked for, everything. I’ll basically have nothing I’ve started from scratch again.”

“I was basically guilty until proven innocent”

In light of these experiences, Troth has called for Chief Slocum’s resignation. However, Chief Slocum declined to comment when contacted by UWK.

Becky Chustz, the First Assistant District Attorney under Tony Clayton, affirmed that the system functioned appropriately in this case, with the grand jury finding no probable cause for arrest.

Nevertheless, even with his name cleared and charges dropped, Troth continues to struggle with the lasting impact of the false allegations, as they overshadow his good standing in the community. He recognizes that reclaiming his reputation will be a gradual process.

“For four months, I basically thought my life was over there. I thought I was going to lose everything. I knew I was innocent from the beginning. I had to prove my innocence. I was basically guilty until proven innocent. I was fighting for my life. It was her word against mine. That’s the way it felt.”

Catch all episodes of Louisiana Unfiltered – An Unfiltered with Kiran podcast anywhere you listen to podcasts including Apple Podcasts and Spotify.

Download the Unfiltered with Kiran app from the Apple App Store and Google Play to stay updated on the latest news across the Capital area. 

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