VILLE PLATTE — A Ville Platte police officer reached a $100,000
settlement of a lawsuit after two women accused the officer of
threatening them with arrest and violence if they did not expose
their breasts to him.
International Business Times recently reported
that two women alleged that they and a man who was with them that
night were driving home late in August 2015. Officer Larry Paul
Fontenot encountered the trio when they pulled over to fix a flat
tire on their vehicle. Fontenot made inappropriate comments as he
approached them and took several pictures of their breasts. He
allegedly told them he would arrest them and also threatened them
with pepper spray if they did not comply.
“This type of illegal action really harms law enforcement and
the general public. It undermines confidence in the training and
performance of the law,” Bill Quigley, law professor at Loyola
University New Orleans, told the Louisiana Record. “The
facts which were alleged in the federal lawsuit were very strong. Not
only did the women say this illegal conduct occurred, but some
law-enforcement people confirmed it. Under these circumstances, a
settlement is expected.”
One of the women involved in the lawsuit said Fontenot passed the
pictures around the police department.
Fontenot resigned from the police department after the alleged
incident and was later arrested on video voyeurism and extortion
“The vast majority of criminal cases in Louisiana end in plea
bargains, so it is likely that this one will be as well,” Quigley
said. “I do not expect any other law-enforcement agency will ever
hire him. If they did, they would be opening themselves up for big
problems if he was ever involved in misconduct again.”
Fontenot is due
in court in May to face his criminal trial. Quigley said that civil
cases are not supposed to have any impact on criminal trials, but the
location may have influence in the courtroom.
“This is a small town, and you can be sure everyone knows about
it,” he said. “It will have an impact on jury selection and the
decision about what type of plea bargain is offered or accepted."