Woman sues ex-cop, Leesburg for alleged sexual assault

By Bethany Rodgers | Reporter
Posted August 3, 2015

A woman who claims a former Leesburg police officer sexually assaulted her while driving her to jail is demanding civil damages from both the man and city officials.

The former officer, Henri Bart Larue, stood trial on criminal charges last year, but a jury acquitted him of assaulting the single mother in a secluded alley in October 2012.

In the civil complaint she filed in June, the woman maintains that Larue, 28, coerced her into performing sex acts and charges him with assault and battery and inflicting emotional distress. The lawsuit also faults the city of Leesburg for negligence.

"I want justice and I will get it, one way or another," the woman wrote in a social media message.

The woman's complaint states that in the early morning of Oct. 3, 2012, Larue pulled over the woman's car on U.S. Highway 441 for burnt-out tag lights, even though the lights were working. He then arrested and handcuffed her for driving on a suspended license and took her to the Leesburg Police Department, all the while engaging in "flirtatious conversation" with her, according to the suit.

For instance, at one point, Larue expressed disappointment that he didn't have "pink, fluffy handcuffs" for the woman, the complaint states.

After finishing the booking process at the police department, Larue drove the woman to the Lake County Jail and continued to flirt with her on the trip, she claims. Near the Lake Square strip mall on U.S. 441, Larue pulled a sudden u-turn and parked the patrol car in a darkened alleyway, where he forced her to perform a sex act, according to the civil complaint.

A transcript of a conversation with a dispatcher shows Larue acknowledged making a "pit stop" with the woman, according to the civil filing.

The woman described the alleged assault to her roommate and relatives later the same day, and her mother contacted Leesburg police, the documents show. Larue was charged with sexual battery by a law enforcement officer following an investigation by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement.

However, investigators were unable to find any relevant video footage from businesses in the strip shopping center where the alleged assault took place.

The lawsuit is the second filed since a jury issued its not-guilty verdict in the case. Last year, Larue filed a complaint accusing the woman of slander and libel, saying her accusations had made it impossible for him to find a new policing job.

The woman's attorney said the libel lawsuit has prolonged the distress suffered by her client. The two civil cases may be consolidated by the judge at some point to avoid unnecessary costs or delay, said attorney Beth Aires with NeJame Law.

"She is not after anyone for money," Aires said of her client. "She wants justice, and she wants to protect her name and be vindicated."

Larue joined the Leesburg Police Department in March 2012. He was fired two months after his arrest in January 2013.

Source: The Orlando Sentinel