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Ex-cop Charged in Sex Assault had Tattoo, Woman Says

LEESBURG - A young Lake County single mother said she remembered the tattoo on the Leesburg police officer's arm as he took off her handcuffs, removed her tank top and forced her to perform a sex act behind a strip mall in the early morning of Oct.3, according to recently released court documents.

The young woman's account is one of multiple pieces of evidence that has been presented against a former 25-year-old rookie cop, Henri Bart LaRue, who was arrested in January on a charge of armed sexual battery by a law-enforcement officer.

"I asked him what we were doing," the 23-year-old woman told Leesburg police's Internal Affairs Bureau. "He said that I, I knew what we were gonna do."

LaRue, a father of three who began working for the Leesburg Police Department in March 2012, was taken into custody in Leesburg after the Florida Department of Law Enforcement filed a warrant for his arrest. He was fired in March for violating department policies.

The chain of events began at a Kangaroo Gas Station shortly after midnight Oct. 3, when LaRue conducted a routine traffic stop on a silver Chevrolet truck for having a dim tag light. The woman was driving the vehicle, a friend's truck, with eight active suspensions on her license, so LaRue arrested her.

According to the woman, LaRue made remarks throughout her arrest and booking that ranged from "innocent flirting" to "perverted comments." While filing arrest paperwork at the Leesburg Police Department, she said, LaRue apologized to her for not having "pink, fluffy handcuffs" and asked if she was wearing underwear.

On the trip to the Lake County Jail, the young woman said LaRue commented that she was "all talk." It was then, the woman told investigators, that LaRue made an unexpected U-turn and drove to a secluded alley behind the strip mall on the south side of U.S. Highway 441, where she said he forced her to perform a sex act.

"Police officers aren't supposed to do that," she told investigators, records show. "You don't expect something like that to happen."

She said she could identify a tattoo of a hand on LaRue's arm. In checking out her allegations, investigators found it should have taken no longer than 14 minutes to get to the jail from Leesburg, but records show 22 minutes elapsed. The woman said LaRue drove as fast as 85 mph to make up time. Records also show that LaRue made a call to dispatch after he left the jail.

"You know how it is when you're flirting with a female," he told the dispatcher. "It's all right, we made a pit stop and all that."

LaRue then said he knew the conversation was being recorded and that he was joking, records show.

Mark NeJame, the woman's lawyer, said the evidence presented has been "entirely consistent from what our client has said from the onset."

"It's pretty conclusive that what she said occurred did occur," NeJame said. "And that is she was coerced into having sex with a uniformed, armed police officer while she was handcuffed in the back of a police car."

LaRue's attorney, Robert Whitte, did not return calls seeking comment.

Copyright © 2013, Orlando Sentinel
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