New Orleans, LA — As frequent readers of the Free Thought Project know, police officers are arrested weekly in this country for sex crimes involving children. This is a massive problem but becomes even worse when victims of child sex abuse seek out help and run right into the arms of someone even worse than they are trying to report. For one girl in New Orleans, Louisiana, this is exactly what happened to her.
Last month, the New Orleans Police department arrested one of their own officers for sexually assaulting a child. Rodney Vicknair, 53, was arrested and charged with sexual battery, indecent behavior with a juvenile and malfeasance, for sexually assaulting a child while investigating a sexual assault that she reported.
Now, we are learning that this officer had a history discipline problems and he likely should have never had his job when the alleged sexual assault took place.
According to a scathing report from WDSU, Vicknair was disciplined four times in just six years, raising the question of whether or not he should have remained employed by the NOPD. Below are the infractions:
- He received a five-day suspension in 2010 for acting unprofessionally and keeping inaccurate records. NOPD’s internal investigation found he used police resources to look up a woman’s personal information and then failed to record an unnecessary stop of the woman in his activity log.
- Vicknair received a one-day suspension and driver training in July 2015 for violating policies related to a vehicle pursuit on March 28, 2014. The internal investigation found he drove 76 mph on Claiborne Avenue at 7 p.m., before driving against traffic for more than three blocks. The investigation did not determine whether Vicknair disregarded a supervisor’s order to end the chase.
- He received a three-day suspension in August 2015 for violating policies related to another vehicle pursuit on Feb. 6, 2014. The internal investigation found he drove against traffic during a car chase that a supervisor determined should not have happened.
- Vicknair received a letter of reprimand in August 2016 for acting unprofessionally when responding to the scene of a fatal overdose. The deceased man’s mother complained that Vicknair laughed at the scene. NOPD’s review of body-camera footage showed he told the overdose victim’s girlfriend, “I didn’t put the needle in his arm” and “I bet if I checked your name you would have warrants.”
According to WDSU, each time NOPD punished Vicknair, the superintendent warned in a letter to him a similar infraction in the future could result in “more severe disciplinary action.” But this never happened and his latest "punishment" was a letter of reprimand.
Because the department lacked oversight, Vicknair was never demoted or had his job threatened which led to him sexually assaulting a child on duty.
Earlier this year, the victim contacted the NOPD to report a sexual assault and Vicknair was assigned to her case. Instead of helping the child, however, this monster allegedly began grooming her.
According to NOLA.com, Vicknair allegedly began sending text messages to the girl, going to her house during his personal time and remarking how attractive she was and how she aroused him, said the source, who spoke on the condition of anonymity. He is also accused of fondling the girl's genitals and breasts, the source said.
After receiving an anonymous tip that Vicknair was sexually assaulting the child — who he was supposed to be helping — the NOPD Public Integrity Bureau conducted a preliminary investigation and found enough evidence to arrest him. A warrant was issued for his arrest at his home in St. Tammany Parish and he was brought in without incident.
His actions on the job have finally led to his suspension from his duties pending the resolution of the criminal case against him. After his arrest, police released the familiar statement noting that his actions don't reflect those of other officers within the department.
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"Allegations against one of our own involving a juvenile [are] reprehensible," Police Superintendent Shaun Ferguson said. "New Orleans police officers are held to a higher standard. We will not tolerate behavior that compromises the public trust or violates the law."
The above statement rings hollow, however, given the fact that the NOPD has a history of child sex abuse and a complete lack of accountability for officers caught abusing children. As TFTP reported, an investigation into the New Orleans Police Department revealed a disturbing lack of discipline for individuals who've been caught and accused of these despicable acts.
The residents of a Mandeville neighborhood felt safe knowing that a 16-year veteran of the NOPD, Sgt Bradley Wax lived down their street. However, that would quickly change after Wax was arrested and charged with 38 counts of possessing child pornography.
As we reported at the time, the Louisiana Attorney General's office conducted a search on Wax's personal computer and other electronic devices and found them to be full of explicit photos of young children.
He was obviously fired immediately and not allowed to be a cop any longer, right? Or at the very least he was suspended until the trial, right? Wrong.
WDSU, who carried out the independent investigation, found that Wax was initially suspended but later returned to work as normal, working in fleet management at the NOPD headquarters.
"It's incredibly hard to imagine anyone in that capacity would be back working and being paid for it at taxpayer expense," said Dr. John Penny, criminologist at Southern University at New Orleans.
It is indeed hard to imagine how any morally sound establishment would continue to allow a man, who was found in possession of so much child pornography that he faced more than 500 years behind bars if convicted, to continue to draw a salary as a cop.
But to the NOPD, it's business as usual.
Wax's scenario is not an isolated incident either. WDSU found more than a half-dozen officers charged with everything from child porn to the state's most serious sexual assault charge, aggravated rape.
NOPD Officer Michael Thomassie was another one. Thomassie was accused and arrested on charges of aggravated rape. However, when WDSU investigators went to New Orlean's 4th district, they found Thomassie currently still working as a cop.
While these officers were initially suspended, as soon as the spotlight moved on, they were silently allowed back across the blue line, a troubling notion indeed.