A former police officer with the New Orleans Police Department (NOPD) was sentenced in federal court to 14 years in prison for sexually assaulting a 15-year-old crime victim in violation of her constitutional rights.
According to the court documents, in May 2020, Rodney Vicknair, 55, while working as an NOPD officer, escorted a then-14-year-old girl, who had been sexually assaulted by another man, to the hospital to undergo a forensic exam, also known as a rape kit.
Vicknair gave the victim his cell phone number and offered to be her friend and mentor.
In the months and weeks thereafter, the evidence indicated that Vicknair and the victim spoke on the phone and exchanged messages on Snapchat. Vicknair, while in uniform, often stopped unannounced at the victim’s residence.
Over time, Vicknair made comments to the victim that were sexual.
On the night of Sept. 23, 2020, Vicknair arrived at the victim’s house. By that time, she had turned 15 years old. He told her to come outside and get into his vehicle, officials stated.
She got into the passenger’s seat while Vicknair remained in the driver’s seat. Then, he locked the doors so that the victim could not leave. Vicknair leaned over toward the victim, and she feared for her physical safety.
He then sexually assaulted the victim when he intentionally touched her genitals under her clothing without her consent.
Vicknair admitted in court that he acted without a legitimate law enforcement purpose and knew his actions were wrong and against the law but that he engaged in such conduct anyway.
“We are grateful to this young survivor for coming forward, even though she thought no one would believe her,” said Assistant Attorney General Kristen Clarke of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division. “Had she not been willing to do so, we would not have been able to hold the defendant accountable for his heinous crime. This case should send a strong message to law enforcement officers who sexually abuse victims, particularly children, that they are not above the law and will be held accountable.”
Assistant Attorney General Kristen Clarke, U.S. Attorney Duane A. Evans, and Special Agent in Charge Douglas A. Williams Jr. made the announcement.
The FBI New Orleans Field Office and the New Orleans Police Department Public Integrity Bureau investigated the case.
Criminal Chief Tracey Knight for the Eastern District of Louisiana and Former Special Litigation Counsel Fara Gold of the Civil Rights Division’s Criminal Section prosecuted the case.