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 charges.
“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."