The West Baton Rouge Sheriff’s Office handed over an investigation into a deputy accused of stalking and sexually assaulting women while on duty to Louisiana State Police. WBRZ’s Investigative Unit reported on an internal investigation into allegations deputy Ben Arceneaux sexually assaulted two women during traffic stops last week.
After the story broke, another three women came forward with similar allegations against Arceneaux which prompted Sheriff Mike Cazes to hand over the investigation to State Police.
After a third party reported the first incident to internal affairs, the Sheriff imposed a two-week suspension without pay, then deputy Arceneaux was transferred to the Work Release Center for two weeks in March. He was placed back on uniform patrol April 1.
Sheriff Cazes acted appropriately in performing a proper and thorough investigation of the facts and tabling any action after the allegations were made, Assistant District Attorney Tony Clayton said in an interview Friday. Clayton called the news coverage of the incident “unfair” because the women reported the incident to the news but none filed a complaint with the Sheriff’s Office.
“We’re not in the business of indicting people and arresting people just because of what somebody says on the news,” Clayton said. “You need evidence.”
The Sheriff’s Office released a redacted copy of the internal investigation to the media last week. Arceneaux is alleged to have waited for one woman after work, pulling her over for illegal tint before grabbing her by the throat and back of the hair on an isolated gravel road. A third party told internal affairs personnel deputy Arceneaux “has been pursuing this particular female for some time” in the report. He called the events mutual when confronted by superiors, according to the report.
On deputy Arceneaux’s explanation of violation form, the boxes asking if the employee has been previously warned and his side of the events were left blank.
The first two women who came forward asserted they did not want to file a complaint, but only wanted to be left alone by deputy Arceneaux, according to records.
“[she] informed me that she didn’t want to file a complaint, nothing happened that she couldn’t handle,” one report reads. In another report, an alleged victim tells detectives she was “not up to pursuing the matter.”
The District Attorney’s Office cannot go off of reports alone, though. The office will pursue the truth through evidence, Clayton said, and if a pattern or proof of the officer’s behavior emerges, he will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.
“If Nakamoto is lying, shame on him, and if these women confirm it, shame on Ben Arceneaux,” Clayton said.
Sheriff Mike Cazes did not return an email seeking comment and has remained silent on all news outlets since the story broke.