NEW ORLEANS — The 14-year-old did not want to go to the emergency room. Her mother had begged her. Her therapist had gently prodded. And now there was a police officer in her living r

He introduced himself as Officer Rodney Vicknair. His New Orleans Police Department cruiser was waiting outside, ready to take her to the hospital for a rape kit. Early that morning, the girl said, a 17-year-old friend had forced himself on her.

Under the police department’s rules, a case like this was supposed to be handled from the start by a detective trained in sex crimes or child abuse. But on this afternoon in May of 2020, it was Vicknair, a patrol officer with a troubled past, who knocked on the girl’s door.

He tried to coax her into changing her mind. “If I’m a young man that has done something wrong to a young lady and she doesn’t follow up and press the issue,” Vicknair said as his body camera recorded the conversation, “then I’m gonna go out and do it to another young lady.”

“And it’s gonna be worse, maybe, the next time,” Vicknair said, “because I’m gonna think in my head, ‘Oh, I got the power. I can go further this time.’ ”

The girl didn’t want that. She just wanted this to be over.

She didn’t know it was only the beginning. Four months later, police would arrest a man for sexually assaulting the girl. But it wouldn’t be her teenage friend. It would be Officer Rodney Vicknair.

The day the 14-year-old met 53-year-old Vicknair was the day the officer began a months-long grooming process, prosecutors would allege. Within hours of meeting the girl, Vicknair wrapped his arm around her while they took a selfie. He let her play with his police baton. He joked with her about “whipping your behind.” He showed her multiple photos of a young woman dressed only in lingerie.

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