Sheriff on why child, inmate were together in bathroom: 'We're not going to answer that'
ST. FRANCISVILLE – A parade of rural officials – ranging from elected leaders to appointed prison chiefs – slammed reports of a child being sexually assaulted by an inmate at the State Penitentiary during a recent Angola Rodeo.
The WBRZ Investigative Unit has spoken with multiple sources at several levels of prison operations who maintain a 13-year-old girl and an inmate had an encounter in a restroom at the rodeo at the end of October. A relative told WBRZ they reported such a complaint to the state shortly after the encounter and before any news was reported on television or online.
WBRZ agreed to not reveal the names of the sources or the family member due to fear of retaliation and, for the sources, fear of losing their jobs.
Sources previously and officials Thursday said the girl and the inmate, identified as Laderrick Davis, were seen leaving the bathroom together. It's what happened in the bathroom that has sources and officials at odds.
Sources told WBRZ something occurred in the bathroom. The family member who spoke to the WBRZ Investigative Unit's Chief Investigator, Chris Nakamoto, earlier this week said the child was sexually assaulted there after being left unsupervised by a guardian.
The family member reported to the Louisiana Department of Children and Family Services that the juvenile was raped. In its response dated October 31 - days before the first report on a newscast or website - DCFS responded the complaint was out of its purview for an investigation. CLICK HERE to read the letter.
But, “there was no intercourse,” prisons chief Jimmy LeBlanc said earlier Thursday and maintained at the news conference later in the day.
An abrupt announcement about the news conference came after lunch Thursday and shortly after LeBlanc was questioned at a Corrections event by WBRZ.
LeBlanc, who had avoided doing a television interview for months, attended a ceremony for prison guards. News outlets were invited to attend except, a prison system spokesperson said, WBRZ. WBRZ was able to have access to LeBlanc for an interview.
During the interview, LeBlanc acknowledged a procedure known to civilians as a “rape kit” was performed. The tests found no evidence of a rape, officials said at the news conference.
Prison officials said, though, they are concerned about the interaction between the girl and the inmate and are addressing policies. The idea of changing procedures at Angola isn't new, though.
Earlier in the week, a prison spokesperson said the Department of Corrections is “aware of… recent issues” and that plans are in place to combat trouble.
"[The Department of Corrections] has already begun an evaluation of the policies and procedures which govern the rodeo," the state said.
The annual month-long rodeo events create complex issues, spokesperson Ken Pastorick said, since crowds number as many as 13,000 per weekend.
“The [Department of Corrections] has spent more than $200,000 dollars on equipment to help combat contraband, and it has made a difference,” he said in an email to WBRZ earlier in the week.
It's still a mystery how and why the child and the inmate got together. Officials said they concluded nothing happened between the pair in the bathroom, though. When questioned further, Sheriff Austin Daniel exclaimed “I'm not going to get into that.”
“I'm not going to answer that question or answer any more questions,” Daniel said before making a snide remark about reporters and walking off with his group.
Officials did reveal, an investigation into what happened continues.
The family member who spoke with WBRZ is concerned the truth may never be revealed.
"I feel like it was a coverup," the family member said. "I feel like they are trying to sweep it under the rug."
Davis, the inmate involved, is serving a life sentence for a murder in northwest Louisiana.
> WATCH: A previous version of this online story featured additional information about other issues at Angola; Click HERE to watch the report