Officer Rodney Vicknair allegedly assaulted the girl over the course of some months–including when she was on her way to a hospital to get a rape kit performed.
A Louisiana family has filed a lawsuit against Rodney Vicknair, a former New Orleans police officer who they say sexually assaulted their teenager daughter—who was he was supposed to be taking to a hospital to get a rape kit.
KIRO7 reports that Vicknair was arrested in September, and has since been charged with sexual battery, indecent behavior with a juvenile, and professional malfeasance.
The victim, says the girl’s family, was only 14 years old at the time of the assault—and had already endured sexual abuse as a child.
An attorney for the family, Hope Phelps, told VICE News that Vicknair took advantage of the girl and her young, single mother’s trust.
““He preyed on a single mother and her young daughter, a rape survivor, by positioning himself as a role model and protective male figure in their lives,” Phelps said in a statement. “He then used that position to create distrust between them, isolating his target from her mother. He escalated from sexualizing the young girl to sexual assault and rape.”
Vicknair was, at the time of the assault, a 13-year veteran of the New Orleans Police Department. He was placed on an emergency suspension immediately after his arrest, and was fired early this year.
Shaun Ferguson, the city’s police superintendent, told KIRO7 that his department has contacted the Federal Bureau of Investigation to ascertain whether Vicknar violated the victim and her mother’s civil rights.
“As I stated from the moment this was brought to my attention, this type of behavior will not be tolerated,” Ferguson said. “These actions violate the basic trust citizens should never have to worry about with their police department.”
However, it seems the police department repeatedly ignored signs and indicators that Vicknair was not fit for duty.
According to the family’s lawsuit, Vicknair had a poor performance record and should not have been considered qualified to deal with an underage rape victim.
“Officer Vicknair was a singularly bad choice for this task,” the lawsuit states. “He was not a member of NOPD’s Special Victims or Child Abuse units, and he had a long list of citizen complaints of unprofessional and illegal conduct.”
Vicknair had, for instance, harassed other women. In one incident, he and other off-duty New Orleans police officers used their license-plate scanner to check a woman’s plates for outstanding warrants. When none were discovered, Vicknair nevertheless summoned the woman to her car “by name,” pretending as if he knew her.
In another case, Vicknair verbally attacked a homeless woman, who’d called police after her romantic partner had died from a heroin overdose.
“I bet if I checked your name, you’d have warrants,” Vicknair said.
In the latter incident, Vicknair was caught on tape making other inappropriate statements and laughing about the homeless man’s death in front of the deceased’s girlfriend.
Vicknair, adds KIRO7, replicated similar behavior with the 14-year old rape victim—from the first day he met her, he allegedly began “grooming” her for abuse, showing her pictures of other purportedly underage girls in swimwear and lingerie.
Vicknair then began visiting the girls home, molesting her on numerous occasions over the course of about four months. The lawsuit accuses Vicknair of digitally penetrating her in his patrol car on at least two separate occasions.
Phelps told FOX8 that Vicknair’s misconduct will likely lead to psychological trauma as well as a lifelong mistrust for police.
“What has happened to them is so traumatizing,” said. “The cost of counseling and piecing your life back together after something like this. You know, your trust in police officers, and medical care providers, and anyone in a position of authority is broken. That’s very damaging, especially at this young age.”