A child abuse investigator with the Department of Children and Families was placed on administrative leave after a victim involved in a busted prostitution ring told investigators she had maintained a sexual relationship with him, a published report said.
Jean LaCroix, 46, allegedly had sex with a teenage foster girl identified as M.D., who is also one of the victims of a prostitution ring that preyed on foster children, the Miami Herald reported.
The prostitution ring was headed by four Florida men who were arrested early Monday and charged with conspiracy, racketeering and unlawful sexual activity with a minor, according to authorities.
Read more about the prostitution ring
LaCroix, though, is not involved with the prostitution ring, according to the Herald.
LaCroix had been assigned as the case worker for M.D. until she was placed in foster care, according to records. He allegedly became involved with the girl in September or October 2011 and the pair had sex on "numerous" occasions, a May search warrant states.
LaCroix was placed on administrative leave on May 7 and had his government-issued cell phone taken after billing records revealed “considerable communication” with the victim for months after October 2011 when he was no longer working her case, the warrant said.
He continued communicating with the teen on his personal phone even after his work phone was seized, according to the warrant.
“The victim advised that while in school she would call or text [LaCroix] and [he] would arrange to pick her up from school and take her to his residence where they would engage in consensual sexual intercourse,” the warrant states.
In an email statement, DCF Secretary David Wilkins wrote, “This alleged behavior is absolutely appalling and betrays the trust and confidence that all Floridians have in our Department's employees. Mr. Lacroix's actions in no way reflect the expectations we and all Floridians have for our investigators or any of our employees.”
Wilkins added, “As soon as we learned of these allegations earlier this year, the department immediately placed Mr. Lacroix on administrative leave with no access to department records, offices or files.”
He said they were working with authorities to further investigate the case. “Additionally, the department began working with Miami-Dade police and the State Attorney’s Office in the investigation of Mr. Lacroix. We will continue to work with them to ensure that any prosecutions related to these allegations are pursued to their fullest extent,” Wilkins said.
M.D. is believed to be one of four girls from her foster home that worked for the prostitution ring, according to reports. The men accused of running the ring plied the girls with cash, affection and gifts, authorities said. In turn, the girls became prostitutes, bringing the ring $100 for every man they had sex with. From the $100, the girls were paid $30 to $40, officials said.
Ring members would call the girls on cell phones given to them by the suspects and arrange to have sex at a building in Homestead that was used as a brothel, officials said.
The men, who were charged on Monday, are: Eric George Earle, 29, Willie Calvin Bivens, 65, Anturrell Nathaniel Dean, 30, and David Zarifi, 34. A 17-year-old foster child is also listed as the recruiter in the 13-page sworn statement, but she doesn't face charges. It wasn't immediately known if they had attorneys.
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