LAFAYETTE — A jury acquitted former Lafayette Police Officer Jackie Hagan Jr. Wednesday of sexual battery stemming from a woman’s claim he groped her in a November 2011 encounter while on duty and wearing his badge.
The jury of six also declined to find Hagan guilty of the lesser charge of attempted sexual battery, which Judge Marilyn Castle said was an option. It took the jury about an hour and 20 minutes to reach their verdict. The trial began Monday.
Hagan faced up to 10 years in prison at hard labor, and would have had to register as a sex offender after his release from prison. Instead, he walked out of the Lafayette Parish Courthouse Wednesday a free man.
Hagan, accompanied by his wife and other family members, did not speak to media outside the courthouse.
“They came back with the right verdict,” said Hagan’s attorney, Thomas Alonzo.
Prosecutor Pat Magee said the 15th Judicial District Attorney’s Office put on the best prosecution the state could muster but fell short.
“I thought our victims testified extremely well and extremely truthful,” Magee said.
In testimony Tuesday, two women claimed Hagan sexually violated them while on duty. One woman said she was 40 years old when, in November 2011, Hagan drove her home, wrapped his arms around her outside her house and touched her in a sexual manner.
Another woman testified that in August 2011, after a night of celebrating her 21st birthday and fighting with her abusive boyfriend, Hagan battered her sexually by performing a pat-down that reached off-limits areas.
Hagan on the witness stand claimed the contact with the older woman, an incident in which his saliva left his DNA on the inside of her bra, was consensual. He said it occurred in a moment of bad judgment after the woman came on to him.
Hagan, 36, testified he didn’t remember an encounter with the younger woman.
The Advocate’s policy is to not identify victims of sexual crimes without their consent.
Alonzo in closing arguments Wednesday told jurors the women’s accounts of what happened were riddled with inconsistencies. He said the older woman’s story defied common sense: She claimed Hagan drove her home in a well-populated, well-lighted subdivision of Lafayette in a police car emblazoned with an identifying number and accosted her in clear sight of neighbors.
“Think about that,” Alonzo said. “It just doesn’t make any sense.”
Alonzo also dismissed prosecution claims that both women were scared to report a police officer to other police officers. He said all police agencies have internal affairs divisions that investigate allegations of misconduct officers.
“They got a whole department for that,” Alonzo said. “Police officers are routinely investigated for misconduct.”
Magee, the prosecutor, asked the jury what the victims had to gain by making up allegations against Hagan. Magee said both women put themselves on a podium that attracted criticism and shame.
“You don’t know what it’s like. ... These ladies do,” Magee told the jury before the verdict was decided. “That is why (Hagan’s) guilty. That’s why you cannot come back with anything but guilty.”
The jury of four men and two women thought otherwise.
Hagan was a 14-year law enforcement veteran — eight of those years with the Lafayette Police Department. The District Attorney’s Office charged Hagan with one count of sexual battery in 2012, which is the charge Hagan was acquitted of Wednesday.
A grand jury in February 2013 also charged Hagan with one count each of sexual battery and malfeasance in office following the younger woman’s claims.
He was on trial this week in the incident involving the older woman that occurred in November 2011
The younger woman was allowed to testify against Hagan at the trial because state law now permits victims in other crimes to testify against a common defendant.
Hagan remains charged with one count of sexual battery and one count of malfeasance in office in the case of the younger woman, who is now 24, and the District Attorney’s Office could still bring Hagan to trial on that charge.
Alonzo and Magee said after the verdict they would meet soon on the pending charge, which also would be overseen by Judge Castle.
“We anticipate it will be scheduled for a hearing at some point,” Alonzo said.