A federal judge in Houston has denied a plea agreement that would have given a software company CEO convicted of transporting and sexually assaulting female employees, a one-year sentence.
"It's obviously a ridiculously low sentence for what these people went through," Judge Melinda Harmon said Friday.
Harmon, instead, set a date for a June trial.
Henri De Sola Morris, 66, had already pleaded guilty to five felony counts. The plea will apparently be withdrawn.
Before the judge made the surprise announcement, Morris made several statements in court.
"I do accept responsibility for my conduct. I am ashamed of what has been done to them. I am greatly remorseful for the conduct," Morris said at varying points during the 45-minute hearing.
Morris has run Houston-based Edible Software.
At least five women have come forward to report similar experiences of being drugged, raped and photographed while on business trips with Morris.
One of the women who spoke Friday in court was a customer. Another woman, a former employee who did not appear in court, sent a statement.
Part of it read: "Henri, you are a diabolical narcissist, one who was stupid enough to take pictures as souvenirs," referring to the evidence that linked Morris to the crimes.
Morris remains free on bond, however. A federal prosecutor raised an issue about the possibility of Morris tampering with a GPS monitoring device.
His lawyer, Dan Cogdell, in court said his client had tried to "glue-on a piece that had fallen off."
The court is waiting for a final report on the device. It appeared the device had been spray-painted, an initial report read.