Content warning: This article discusses in detail the sexual assault of a minor. Viewer discretion is advised.
NEW ORLEANS (WGNO) — A former New Orleans police officer has been sentenced to federal prison after sexually assaulting a teenage girl while on duty in 2020.
On Tuesday, the Department of Justice announced the sentencing of 55-year-old Rodney Vicknair, a 13-year veteran of the force, to 14 years in prison for the assault.
Court documents say the exchange dated back to when the girl, then 14, had been sexually assaulted by another man. Vicknair assisted the victim by escorting her to the hospital to collect samples for a rape kit. It was then that attorneys say Vicknair offered his contact information to the victim and befriended her.
The DOJ says in the weeks after, the two began to exchange messages on Snapchat and speak on the phone. Detectives said Vicknair would often stop by the victim’s home unannounced while in uniform, and eventually, would begin making sexual comments to the teen.
In September 2020, Vicknair made another stop at the victim’s house, who had turned 15 at that point. When asked to get into the officer’s vehicle, the victim complied, not knowing that she would again be sexually assaulted. Vicknair then locked the doors of the car, leaned over to the teen, and touched her genital area under her clothing.
When questioned in court, Vicknair admitted that there was no legal purpose for his actions and that he knowingly acted in the wrong.
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.”