GONZALES — An Ascension Parish sheriff’s detective was having sex with a 14-year-old girl in the back of his sheriff’s sport-utility vehicle last week when he heard dispatchers on his police radio report about a teen who had run away from a home where he had picked up the girl a short time earlier, according to court testimony Monday.
One of the more dramatic details in a graphic, hour-and-a-half long bail hearing, the tale of sex in the sheriff’s SUV emerged during a battle between Assistant District Attorney Joni Buquoi and defense attorney Joseph Long over the credibility of diverging accounts from the girl and the now-fired detective, William Lanoux, 31, of Prairieville.
Two sheriff’s juvenile officers testified Monday that both Lanoux and the rape victim told them the detective stopped the June 13 sexual encounter after he heard the dispatchers.
Staff Sgt. Shakema LeBlanc, the juvenile detective who interviewed the girl, added that she claimed Lanoux “kind of like freaked out,” put his clothes on and began driving around in the unmarked vehicle, trying to figure out what to do.
Lt. Kyle Hanna, a sheriff’s juvenile division supervisor who interviewed Lanoux, testified the detective later found a deputy on La. 44 and Causey Road to ask for help.
Hanna testified that Lanoux claimed he thought he was having consensual oral sex and sexual intercourse with an 18-year-old, albeit while he was on duty.
Hanna also testified that Lanoux claimed the girl threatened to accuse him of rape if he did not finish having sex with her once the dispatch report came across the SUV’s radio.
But LeBlanc testified the girl claimed she told Lanoux she was 14 when he picked her up. While she participated online in setting up the meeting, she didn’t want to have sex with him when he arrived nor get in his SUV but was coerced by the armed officer, LeBlanc said.
“I don’t care. Get in the car,” LeBlanc said the girl claimed Lanoux told her.
Lanoux, a member of the Louisiana Army National Guard and an eight-year veteran of the Sheriff’s Office until his June 14 termination, has been booked on counts of first-degree rape and malfeasance in office.
Buquoi wanted no bail Monday for Lanoux, who she noted has children at home, at least until the investigation and the search of his electronic hardware are finished. DNA tests of swabs from Lanoux and his SUV are pending. A few hours after the hearing ended, Judge Alvin Turner Jr., of the 23rd Judicial District Court set Lanoux’s bail at $135,000. Lanoux bailed out of jail Monday evening.
The juvenile officers told a courtroom that included members of Lanoux’s family that he and the girl each initially gave false versions of what led up to their meeting. Then they separately revealed their sexual encounter was part of a pre-planned rendezvous put together the night of June 13 through the social media application Skout. Lanoux picked her up at 9:30 p.m. down the street from her mother’s house, where the girl lived.
Lanoux made that revelation while in the office of Sheriff Jeff Wiley on June 14 during which the sheriff himself read him his Miranda rights while Hanna and another officer were present, Hanna said.
Lanoux had previously told the deputy he and the girl met on La. 44 the night of the incident, he picked up the girl randomly and was trying to get her home when she started throwing items around inside his vehicle, Hanna testified.
Lanoux left his office the night of June 13 and falsely told his boss he was going to help his wife because she locked her keys in the car, Hanna added.
At the same time, Long, the defense attorney, seized on the girl’s inconsistent story — she initially said she was going out to check the mail when Lanoux drove up to her — and asked LeBlanc, in her experience as a juvenile detective, if she believed the girl was credible.
“I can’t give my opinion on that, sir,” LeBlanc said.
But LeBlanc testified that except for inconsistencies about what led up to the encounter, the girl’s account of what happened afterward was consistent over two interviews.
In that latter part of the girl’s account, LeBlanc testified, the girl claimed Lanoux warned her that he “can make things happen” when she initially resisted the idea of sex and he began taking her clothes off.
When she again resisted, he put his hand on his gun and pushed her head down, LeBlanc testified. They later briefly had intercourse.
LeBlanc added that juvenile victims of sex crimes often don’t tell the truth initially because they believe it is partly their fault.
A transcript of the Skout conversation also figured heavily in questioning over Lanoux’s effort to determine the girl’s age and her attempts to conceal it.
Long, the defense attorney, elicited testimony from the detectives that the girl listed her age as 18 on her Skout profile, told Lanoux on Skout that she was 18, was told he was a deputy and refused to show him her identification when he asked for it.
“ ‘If you don’t trust me, then don’t come. That’s my biggest pet peeve. Trust me or don’t come,’ ” the girl wrote to Lanoux, according to LeBlanc.
But Buquoi, the prosecutor, argued Lanoux raised questions about the girl’s age on Skout in an attempt to give himself the ability afterward to deny he knew her actual age.
Buquoi had Hanna read a part of the Skout transcript where the girl writes Lanoux would be “my first.” Buquoi also noted that though Lanoux asked for the girl’s identification, he never got it, yet still met with her.
LeBlanc said that when Lanoux picked up the girl, she was wearing a shirt and shorts with the name of a high school on them.