The Investigators: BR Police Chief disciplines veteran officer for risque' parade float

The Investigators: BR Police Chief disciplines veteran officer for risque' parade float

BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - A veteran Baton Rouge Police officer has been disciplined for his involvement in a float that made fun of a television reality show star who was allegedly molested by her father.

Sons of Guns reality star, Stephanie Ford, was the subject of a risqué float in this year's Spanish Town Parade.

It is not uncommon for floats that parade through Spanish Town to poke some fun at celebrities and current events, but Ford said one float went too far.

In an interview with 9News last February, Ford said it forced her into hiding.

"I didn't leave my house for months," Ford said.

Ford captured national attention shortly before the parade when she went on the Dr. Phil show to talk about allegations that her father, Will Hayden, had kissed her and touched her inappropriately.

The Krewe of Sleaziana in the Spanish Town Parade included a photo of her on the side and derogatory statements about her.

Ford was not at the parade but said she soon saw pictures of the float on Facebook and complained to the BRPD through her TV agent.

The department identified three off-duty officers who were either on the float or helped pull it. They were Sergeants Douglas Atkins, Byron Fontenot and Donald Young.

An Internal Affairs investigation revealed Sgt. Young owned the float. In a statement, he told investigators "he purchased the float" and that he takes "full responsibility" for what happened. He added, "the intent was to poke fun at Will Hayden, not the victim."

He "realized it was an error in judgement, and regrets the issues it has caused." The punishment for his involvement was a letter of reprimand.

Sgt. Fontenot said, in his statement, "he paid to ride on the float" but was not familiar with the case, only that Ford "had been on the Dr. Phil show."

Sgt. Atkins said he pulled the float with his truck but "did not, at the time, find the decorations offensive." Fontenot and Atkins were cleared of any wrong doing.

Chief Carl Dabadie released the following statement:

"After several failed attempts to interview Mrs. Ford and have her file a complaint, I still felt that the off duty actions of the officers riding on this float in the Spanish Town Parade warranted an Internal Affairs investigation. After the investigation, I concluded that Sgt. Young did violate the department's policy for off duty conduct even though he was not in uniform or representing the Baton Rouge Police Department during the parade. Sgt. Young did own the float that was decorated in an offensive manner and should have used better judgment before allowing the float in the parade. Sgt. Atkins did pull the float with his personal truck in the parade and Sgt. Fontenot did show up several minutes before the parade started and rode on the float along with 27 other individuals. I sincerely apologize to Mrs. Ford for the actions of my officers and have since taken steps to insure this does not happen in the future."

Ford declined an on camera interview with 9News regarding the outcome of the investigation but said she is highly disappointed and echoed the same concern she voiced in February.

"It's a major step back for victims of sexual abuse. There are so many girls out there who have been hurt and they are terrified to come forward," 
Ford said.

Ford said she plans to take legal action.

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