Lawyer for Leesburg police officer charged with sex battery speaks out

By Sheli Muniz, Reporter, smuniz@wkmg.com
Published On: Jan 30 2013 04:39:18 PM EST
Updated On: Jan 24 2013 04:31:50 PM EST

LEESBURG, Fla. -

The lawyer for a Leesburg police officer accused of forcing a woman under arrest to commit a sexual act spoke out on Thursday saying the allegation is untrue.

The Florida Department of Law Enforcement arrested a Leesburg Police Officer on Wednesday on sexual battery charges after a three-month investigation.

Officer Henri Bart Larue posted his $100,000 bond after his first appearance, in which his wife and sister attended to support him.

"There have been apparently allegations, however, there are no facts in the file that we just looked at to support any of it, but we are going to file a motion to get those to see what the facts are," said Larue's attorney, Robbery Whittel.

Larue, 25, has been charged with sexual battery with a firearm after the investigation into the Oct. 3, 2012, incident. Larue stopped a 23-year-old woman for a broken tail light and found she had active suspensions, so he placed her under arrest and started to take her to the Lake County Jail, according to reports.

On the way to the jail, he allegedly stopped at an alley behind a shopping center, removed her handcuffs and forced her to perform a sex act, the report states.

Whittel said he believes the victim has an ulterior motive and says the victim has had several run-ins with the law.

"We're going to fight this case," Whittel said. "We're going to take it all the way to trial if we need to. He maintains his innocence, he is innocent and that's our position."

Leesburg police officials said the department is ashamed of the allegations.

"From the chief's office on down, like I said, we're just mortified about those allegations," said Captain Rob Hicks of the Leesburg Police Department. "Once we determined the nature of the allegation was criminal we immediately brought in the Florida Department of Law Enforcement."

The victim has hired Attorney Mark NeJame to represent her. NeJame held a news conference on Wednesday afternoon to discuss the charges his client filed.

"The car was stopped, (the victim's) door was opened, one of her handcuff was left on one wrist the other was released, and while the officer was armed with a gun strapped to his side, a uniform and badges, he beckoned her to commit a sex act on him," NeJame said.

Larue was employed with the department starting in March 2012 and was placed on paid administrative leave October 5, 2012, following the allegations. He is now on unpaid leave.

The Florida Department of Law Enforcement conducted an investigation, along with the Leesburg Police Department. The department will determine if Larue will be taken off the force.

Larue will be back in front of a judge for a bond reduction hearing on Feb. 19.

Check back for more information on this developing story.

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