Deputy_Ben_Arceneaux

Deputy Ben Arceneaux

A former West Baton Rouge deputy accused of stalking and sexually assaulting multiple women while on duty pleaded guilty Monday to malfeasance in office.

Ben Arceneaux, who resigned from the West Baton Rouge Sheriff's Office after being indicted in December on one count of malfeasance in office, will serve no prison time but will be on probation for two years, said prosecutor Becky Chustz, of the West Baton Rouge District Attorney's Office. A judge also ordered that Arceneaux undergo a sexual predator evaluation and comply with any recommended treatment. 

Arceneaux was also sentenced to five years in prison, but the judge suspended that part of the sentence, Chustz said. 

Chustz said she worked with a team of prosecutors on the case, and noted that the victim agreed to the plea deal they reached with Arceneaux. 

Few details about the allegations against Arceneaux, as well as his response, have been released publicly, with many of the internal investigation filings heavily redacted. However, State Police investigators confirmed that women made claims of sexual assault against Arceneaux while he was on duty. 

Arceneaux was initially placed on a two-week suspension without pay in March 2018 following an internal investigation by the West Baton Rouge Sheriff's Office after two women accused the deputy of stalking and assaulting them while he was on duty. Following the suspension, he was transferred to work at the parish's Work Release Center for about two week, but then resumed patrols back on the streets of West Baton Rouge Parish, internal affairs records show. 

After WBRZ-TV reported the initial allegations, which sparked criticism about the Sheriff's Office internal investigation and response, three additional women came forward with similar allegations against Arceneaux. The Sheriff's Office then called in State Police to take over the investigation. 

That State Police investigation was used by prosecutors to obtain Arceneaux's indictment on malfeasance in office. He has not been arrested for any other crimes and the details of that investigation have not been made public. 

The initial woman who came forward with allegations against Arceneaux claimed the deputy had grabbed her by neck and hair after forcing her to pull over on a secluded gravel road in West Baton Rouge Parish during a traffic stop, internal documents show. Most of what happened next was blacked out by West Baton Rouge Sheriff Mike Cazes' attorney.

Documents did show that the woman said Arceneaux threatened to further restrain her when she tried to fight back. 

The woman told investigators that Arceneaux had previously visited her job several times before the incident to flirt with her but that she told him she was only interested in a friendship. She also said Arceneaux would joke about pulling her over one day and issuing her a ticket.  

The second woman who initially came forward claimed Arceneaux called her, asking that she meet up with him on a gravel road to talk. But when she arrived, the woman told detectives Arceneaux grabbed her by the neck and pulled her hair, demanding she do something, internal records have shown. It was unclear what he demanded, because parts of that report were also blacked out by lawyers.

Arceneaux did not initially deny some of the allegations when confronted by his superiors, but called it a mutual interaction with the victim, according to one police report.


Email Grace Toohey at gtoohey@theadvocate.com.