GONZALES — A former Ascension Parish sheriff’s deputy was arrested Tuesday on a count of first-degree rape and malfeasance in office over allegations he had sex with a juvenile girl while on duty.
Detective William Lanoux, 31, who has been with the department since 2008, was terminated after his arrest and was booked into Ascension Parish Prison on Tuesday afternoon, Sheriff Jeff Wiley said.
At the end of Lanoux’s shift Monday night, he had set up a rendezvous with a girl through a social media site. Lanoux, of Prairieville, picked up the girl, who he says he believed was 18, in his unmarked sheriff’s vehicle and had sex with her, Wiley said.
Sometime later, Lanoux learned through the dispatch radio in his sheriff’s vehicle that deputies were looking for a 14-year-old runaway girl, Wiley said.
At some point, the plainclothes detective realized the girl reported missing was the girl with whom he had just been.
The entire incident happened between 9:15 p.m. and 10:15 p.m. Monday, Wiley said.
Wiley said Lanoux had been a “stellar employee,” is active in the National Guard and had been held in high standing in the Sheriff’s Office until Tuesday.
In September 2014, Lanoux presented the Sheriff’s Office with the U.S. flag that flew over a military installation while he served in Afghanistan. At the time, Lanoux had just returned from a deployment, the sheriff’s Facebook page says.
“Obviously, you don’t know what you don’t know until you know it, so … obviously, we dealt with him very quickly administratively, and he is no longer in our employment,” Wiley said Tuesday night.
He said sheriff’s investigators have reviewed Lanoux’s online conversation with the girl. The girl claimed she was 18 and Lanoux identified himself as a sheriff’s deputy, Wiley said.
He said Lanoux has admitted to the encounter and is remorseful but claims it was a consensual act with a person he believed was 18.
Wiley said detectives were interviewing the girl Tuesday night for her side of the story.
It was unclear Tuesday where the girl was from.
Wiley said his department has policies to regulate employee conduct on social networking sites and conducts quarterly training on those polices.
“That’s not just something we occasionally visit when there’s a stumble. We proactively do that,” Wiley said.
Bail had not been set for Lanoux by Tuesday evening, deputies said.
Follow David J. Mitchell on Twitter, @NewsieDave.