Former New Orleans police officer Rodney Vicknair was sentenced to 14 years in prison on Tuesday after being convicted of sexually assaulting a teenaged rape victim. File Photo by Carolyn Kaster/UPI | License Photo
March 14 (UPI) -- A former New Orleans police officer was sentenced to 14 years in prison on Tuesday after being convicted of sexually assaulting a teenage rape victim.
Rodney Vicknair was accused of assaulting a 15-year-old months after he escorted her to a hospital for care after she said she was raped by another man in May 2020, the Justice Department said in a press release.
Vicknair's sentence is reportedly double what the Justice Department was seeking in a plea deal. U.S. District Judge Lance Africk rejected the deal on March 8, which was when sentencing was originally scheduled.
After a rape kit was performed on the girl, Vicknair exchanged information with her so he could stay in contact and "mentor" her, officials said. At some point, he began to make sexual comments toward her and ultimately sexually assaulted her in his truck in September 2020, ABC News reports. He also showed up to her home unannounced on multiple occasions.
"We are grateful to this young survivor for coming forward, even though she thought no one would believe her," Assistant Attorney General Kristen Clarke of the Justice Department's Civil Rights Division said in a statement.
"Had she not been willing to do so, we would not have been able to hold the defendant accountable for his heinous crime," Clarke said. "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 55-year-old former officer pleaded guilty in November to sexually assaulting the girl while acting in the capacity of a law-enforcement officer.
"The defendant's job was to protect a child who was a victim of sexual assault, but instead he exploited her vulnerabilities and abused his position of power to carry out his own sexual assault of the victim," Clarke said in a statement following Vicknair's guilty plea.