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 in his capacity 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, Vicknair and the victim spoke on the phone and exchanged messages on Snapchat. Vicknair, while in uniform, often stopped by unannounced at the victim’s residence. Over time, Vicknair made comments to the victim that were sexual in nature.
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. 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 that he 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.”
“The public must be able to trust that law enforcement will faithfully execute their sworn duties or face the consequences for failing to do so,” said U.S. Attorney Duane A. Evans for the Eastern District of Louisiana. “Our office, along with the Department of Justice, the FBI and state and local law enforcement agencies, will continue to investigate and prosecute any violations of constitutional rights.”
“The FBI is dedicated to doing the work to restore public faith in law enforcement when individuals attempt to use the badge to hide their illegal behavior,” said Special Agent in Charge Douglas A. Williams Jr. of the FBI New Orleans Field Office. “We also thank the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Eastern District of Louisiana the Department of Justice Civil Rights Division, and the New Orleans Police Department Public Integrity Unit for their efforts in this case.”
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.