A New Orleans police officer groomed and raped a 14-year-old girl he was assigned to take to a rape kit exam, a lawsuit alleges

Michelle Mark
·2 min read
  • A new lawsuit accuses a New Orleans cop of grooming and raping a 14-year-old rape survivor.

  • Officer Rodney Vicknair was arrested last year and fired from the police department in January.

  • The lawsuit alleged the police department shouldn't have allowed Vicknair to assist the girl.

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The mother of a 14-year-old girl has sued the city of New Orleans and a former police officer, alleging the officer groomed and raped the girl after he was assigned to take her to a children's hospital for a rape kit exam last year.

The lawsuit, filed in federal court this week, said the police department dispatched Officer Rodney Vicknair to transport the girl to hospital on Memorial Day weekend of 2020. But while Vicknair and the girl sat in the waiting area, he showed the girl pictures on his phone of what he claimed was his 16-year-old daughter posing in bikinis and lingerie, according to the lawsuit.

The lewd photos were just the beginning of a series of increasingly inappropriate encounters that would devolve into sexual assault and rape, the lawsuit alleged.

Vicknair, who portrayed himself as a "mentor," soon began phoning and texting the girl nearly every day for four months, often inviting himself into her home or asking her to come out to his police vehicle.

The lawsuit alleged that Vicknair also became violent during these encounters, striking the girl with a police baton, forcefully twisting her arm, and groping her buttocks while hugging her. In one incident described in the lawsuit, Vicknair "invited himself over" while the girl was sleeping, woke her up by shining a flashlight in her face, then groped her breasts.

The lawsuit alleged that on two occasions, Vicknair "attacked and raped [the girl] by inserting his fingers into her vagina while in his police vehicle."

Vicknair was arrested last September and charged with sexual battery, indecent behavior with a juvenile, and malfeasance. But this week's lawsuit alleged that the police department knew Vicknair had a history of misconduct allegations and was not a member of the special victims or child-abuse units, and should never have been dispatched to assist a 14-year-old rape victim.

The New Orleans Police Department told Insider in a statement that Vicknair was suspended last September after his arrest. The police department then fired him on January 13 and contacted the FBI to investigate potential civil-rights violations.

"As I stated from the moment this was brought to my attention, this type of alleged behavior will not be condoned or tolerated," Shaun Ferguson, the superintendent of the police department, said in a statement. "These alleged actions are clear violations of the Department's policies and contrary to everything that we require and expect of our police officers."

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