NEW ROADS, LA (WAFB) - The New Roads Police Department recently hired a rookie officer who was once arrested on a charge of forcible rape, which was later reduced to a misdemeanor, according to documents uncovered by the 9News Investigators.
The officer is 27-year-old Sam Jerome Milligan. A native of Baton Rouge, Milligan began patrolling the streets of New Roads less than a year ago.
A small town in Pointe Coupee Parish, New Roads has fewer than 5,000 residents and an equally small police department with about 16 full-time officers.
It's unclear what brought Milligan to the small town and what attracted him to law enforcement. His employment history includes entry-level gigs at Pizza Hut, Walmart and Celebration Station, according to an application form he filled out for the New Roads Police Department.
He did list one loosely-related experience at what seems to be a private security company, Elite Crime Prevention. But he left off his dates of employment on his application. Also, the company is not registered with the Louisiana Secretary of State.
On the application Milligan listed his position with the company as "officer, supervisor" and referenced a "Mrs. Carter" as the owner. However, the Louisiana State Board of Private Security Examiners ordered the company to "cease & desist" for being unlicensed and uninsured — an order issued to "Sam Milligan dba Elite Crime Prevention Officers, LLC."
On a second application form dated two months later, Milligan made no mention at all of working at Elite Crime Prevention. He instead listed Absolute Security as his most recent employer, claiming a similar position of "officer/supervising officer." On this more recent form, he also made no mention of working at Pizza Hut — the dates of which overlap with his job at Absolute Security.
Milligan declined to comment for this story, but his boss, New Roads Police Chief Kevin McDonald said Milligan was a very eager job applicant who hung around the police station often and persistently asked to be hired.
"He came here probably at least 20 times requesting a job," McDonald said. "He was real diligent about wanting to become a police officer, and after some time, we said, 'This kid really has his heart in it and looked like he would make a good cop.'"
Milligan's eager attitude and persistence paid off. McDonald and his right-hand assistant, Capt. Delaney Lee, agreed to hire Milligan despite the blemish in his background. Milligan has a criminal record that includes three arrests and one conviction.
In 2009, Opelousas police arrested Milligan on a charge of forcible rape. Milligan later pleaded guilty to the reduced charge of misdemeanor carnal knowledge of a juvenile, and the case was expunged last year.
His bosses said they were aware of the case when they hired him.
"It was reduced," the chief said. "Then he pled to a misdemeanor, which was expunged."
An expungement seals all records of a case, allowing access only to law enforcement agencies and courts, making it difficult for the public to verify details of a person's criminal history.
Lee said Milligan was 17 at the time and had a consensual relationship with the victim, who was 14. The victim allegedly embellished claims about what happened, and the charge was reduced after a rape kit refuted the claims, Lee said.
According to the Opelousas Police Department, Milligan was arrested on May 11, 2009 — making him just two months shy of his 19th birthday. If, as Lee states, Milligan was 17 at the time of the incident, that means the police didn't charge him until more than a year later.
Milligan disclosed his carnal knowledge conviction on his application form, but 9News Investigators found no mention of his other arrests, which he was not required to disclose because they did not result in convictions.
His second arrest occurred a little more than two years later in September 2011. Milligan was charged with misdemeanor theft of goods. The case was eventually dismissed. No further details were available.
On April 14, 2016, East Baton Rouge Parish sheriff's deputies arrested Milligan on a charge of domestic battery with child endangerment. An affidavit filed in the case accused him of throwing a bowl and spoon at his girlfriend's face, "causing a laceration to her top lip" while she was trying to feed their 13-month-old child. Then as he proceeded to leave the residence, he "forcefully pushed her with his hands on her chest, causing her to fall down," the affidavit said.
The victim in that case appeared to cooperate with authorities initially. A warrant was issued, and Milligan was arrested about a month later. A judge found sufficient probable cause to set a $5,000 bond and move the case forward, according to court records.
However, the 19th Judicial District Attorney's Office later dropped the charge. District Attorney Hillar Moore said the victim refused to testify.
A QUESTIONABLE HIRE?
Public watchdog and former prosecutor Rafael Goyeneche said he sees several red flags with the way the New Roads Police Department is selecting recruits. Goyeneche now heads the Metropolitan Crime Commission, a citizen watchdog organization in New Orleans that has spearheaded 47 felony convictions of corrupt officials since 2009.
"I think that there's some real questions about the process that the new roads police department uses in making hiring decisions about some of their police officers," Goyeneche said. "The best predictor of future behavior is past behavior."
After interviewing Goyeneche, the 9News investigative team obtained the remainder of Milligan's personnel file from the City of New Roads, which contained a citizen complaint dated Oct. 15, 2017.
The complaint is from a woman who accuses Milligan of following her home in his patrol car late at night, sitting in front of her home while she was inside, and texting her unsolicited photos and videos of him playing with himself and photos of "his penis onside of objects." He also pulled her over twice without giving any tickets or explanation — "just to mess with (her)," the statement read.
The woman, who asked to remain anonymous, repeated her claims in a phone interview Tuesday. She said that on one occasion Milligan pulled her over and asked if she was driving drunk. When she denied being drunk, he told her he would let her off and that she now "owed him," she said.
In her written statement to the department, she said she did not want to press charges. She elaborated on this Tuesday, saying she did not want to have to go to court and testify as she has three kids and is studying for law school.
The department took no disciplinary action against Milligan after receiving the complaint. Milligan, however, did receive a one-day suspension for wearing the wrong pants to work.
Regardless of the citizen complaint, Milligan's previously-documented criminal history would have likely disqualified him from working at other departments, Goyeneche said.
"Usually a crime against a person is a disqualifier for employment in law enforcement," Goyeneche said. "Any time he is called to testify, his integrity can be an issue for the defense to use."
"The hiring mistakes made by law enforcement today," he added, "are the tragedies, lawsuits and embarrassments in the national headlines of tomorrow."