14-year sentence for ex-cop who molested teen rape victim

NEW ORLEANS (AP) — A former New Orleans police officer was sentenced Tuesday to 14 years in federal prison for sexually assaulting a 15-year-old girl who was already a rape victim.

Federal prosecutors said Rodney Vicknair was a police officer in 2020 when he escorted a then-14-year-old victim to a hospital for a rape examination after she was assaulted by another man. Prosecutors said Vicknair offered to become the girl’s friend and mentor and often showed up at her house unannounced.

But in time, according to court documents, he began making comments to her that were sexual in nature, eventually persuading her to send him sexually explicit pictures of herself that he kept on his phone. And on Sept. 23, 2020, when the girl was 15, he showed up at her house and told her to get into his truck. When she was in the passenger seat, Vicknair locked the door, leaned over her and “intentionally touched her genitals under her clothing,” according to a Justice Department news release and court records.

Initially arrested on state charges that included sexual battery, Vicknair pleaded guilty in federal court to deprivation of rights under color of law.

U.S. District Judge Lance Africk rejected an initial plea agreement carrying a 7-year sentence. On Tuesday, he sentenced Vicknair to 14 years, according to court records.

“We are grateful to this young survivor for coming forward, even though she thought no one would believe her,” Assistant U.S. Attorney General Kristen Clarke of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division said in a news release.