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In tell-all, relative of girl raped at Angola says 'it was a coverup'

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BATON ROUGE – Frustration deepens for at least one family member of a 13-year-old who was reportedly raped by an inmate on the grounds of the State Penitentiary on the last day of the famous Angola Rodeo.

Wednesday, the family member told the WBRZ Investigative Unit, they tried to ask the state child welfare department to investigate but the request was denied. In a letter about why, the Department of Children and Family Services said the request and the allegation of an attack was out of their purview. The family member likened the denial to the state turning its back on a serious issue.

Details of a request for an investigation from a family member come amid previous WBRZ reports about an investigation surrounding the child and an encounter with an inmate. The family member, who asked not to be identified, said they felt the need to share their story after seeing an expose featured on the 6 o'clock news Tuesday.

"I feel like it was a coverup," the family member said. "I feel like they are trying to sweep it under the rug."

The family member said when they learned about the situation from others close to the child not long after the rodeo, they immediately notified DCFS.

“I… contacted family services the next day and told them I was concerned,” the relative said. “At that point in time, they took some statements.”

The request to investigate made by the family member came shortly after the incident and before any report on the news.

The relative said a guardian left the child unsupervised, making it easy for the 13-year-old to end up in a bathroom with the inmate.

"A 13-year old unsupervised at the rodeo, I don't know what to say," the family member opined.

The family member recounted to WBRZ – and in the complaint to the state – what the WBRZ Investigative Unit has reported: the young girl was assaulted. Days later, though, the family member said DCFS sent a letter, writing it was not going to investigate.

     > CLICK HERE to read/see the letter.

The letter stated: "After careful consideration.... we are unable to investigate the situation because it does not meet the legal and policy definition of child abuse or neglect. We have forwarded your report to law enforcement for possible follow-up by them. It does not meet the legal and policy definition of child abuse or neglect for which DCFS is responsible to investigate."

Wednesday, the West Feliciana Parish Sheriff's Office said it was unaware of such a report being forwarded by DCFS. However, a spokeswoman said the sheriff's office is investigating an incident between a 13-year-old and an inmate at Angola. Detectives are currently waiting on DNA samples from the State Police Crime Lab. The sheriff's office would not elaborate on the investigation.

Late Wednesday evening, a spokesperson for DCFS said "DCFS investigations are restricted to cases of alleged abuse or neglect of a child by the child’s parent or caretaker. A determination of whether a case meets the legal requirements for acceptance is always fact-specific and depends on the information available at the time the report is made. If a case does not meet the requirements for acceptance, DCFS will notify law enforcement, where appropriate, if law enforcement is not already involved in the case."

Previously, WBRZ sources identified the inmate as Lederrick Davis. Davis has been moved to another prison. The sheriff's office would not say whether Lederrick Davis was questioned before he was transferred away from Angola.

WBRZ first reported Tuesday, those familiar with how transfers work said the way this one occurred was not only unusual, but it also raised red flags.

The WBRZ Investigative Unit requested an interview with the Secretary of the Department of Children and Family Services. But, the secretary was out of town. An employee with DCFS said policies dictate what the department can and can't investigate.

The family member who spoke with WBRZ questioned the decision: "I don't understand if you are Child Protective Services, and you are here to protect children, why would you not follow up?"

Now, the family member is wanting changes to how agencies operate.

"I think the Governor should be involved, to get to the bottom of this to make sure it doesn't happen again," they said.

Again Wednesday, WBRZ asked for an interview from the head of the state Department of Corrections. No one was made available for a TV interview as of the 6 o'clock news.

After a similar request the day before, the state issued an emailed response to the Tuesday night story after it was featured on television. Then, Department of Corrections Spokesman Ken Pastorick said "there is an ongoing investigation into an alleged incident which may have occurred during the last weekend of the October 2017 rodeo. The details of the alleged incident will not be released or discussed until the appropriate time."

     > CLICK HERE for the Tuesday evening report.

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