Attorney for fired RPSO lieutenant files emergency writ with Third Circuit

RAPIDES PARISH, La. (KALB) - The attorney for Stacy Bender, the former Rapides Parish Sheriff's Office lieutenant charged with malfeasance in office, abuse of office, and filing false public documents, has filed an emergency writ with the Third Circuit Court of Appeal just a few weeks before he heads to trial.

Former Rapides Parish Sheriff's Office lieutenant, Stacy Bender, arrives to court for his pre-trial. | File Image from: KALB

Bender was arrested by Louisiana State Police in July 2016 after an investigation found that he allegedly had an on-going sexual relationship with a prostitute. Investigators believe that Bender was on-duty at the time.

George Higgins, Bender's attorney, believes the 9th Judicial District Court made five errors in the case.

According to Higgins, while performing his duties as an undercover narcotics officer, Bender "encountered many people who were not the most credible in our society." Bender "befriended several of these people to use as 'snitches,' and, "on occasion, the relationship between the narcotics officer and the source sours."

Higgins claims that a prostitute alleged to Louisiana State Police that Bender broke criminal law by committing "various criminal acts including having sexual relations" with her.

Because Bender was billed by the Rapides Parish District Attorney's Office on three separate docket numbers, Higgins previously filed a series of motions to quash those cases, as well as a motion in limine, which would limit information presented in court. All were denied by Judge Mary Doggett. Meanwhile, the DA's Office succeed in a motion it filed to introduce evidence of other crimes it says were committed by Bender.

Higgins believes the lower court erred when it denied those motions and is asking the Third Circuit to determine if the rulings on those motions were an "abuse of discretion."

When it comes to the abuse of office charge, Higgins writes that general criminal intent is required. Higgins claims that the materials filed by the state "reflect a consensual relationship." And, "there is nothing in the circumstances that shows the defendant was taking advantage of his position."

Higgins also believes that the allegations are "almost identical" to those alleged in the malfeasance in office charge and therefore constitute "double jeopardy."

In his second assignment of error, Higgins believes the lower court erred in denying the motion to quash the charge of filing false public documents. In that docket number, it is alleged that for a time card dated May 25, 2015, Bender was supposed to work eight hours, but "he spent from 1 to 3 hours that date during his work hours having sexual intercourse" with the prostitute.

Higgins writes that RPSO does not require the filing of time cards, so the state cannot show that the time card was a document required by law. He also claims that the "activity could easily be considered to be in the course of his employment as an undercover narcotics officer."

The third assignment of error has to do with statutory immunity Higgins said Bender has as an officer and, "if it were not for the provisions of this statute, any police officer would be guilty of multiple crimes during the course of their workday."

The fourth assignment of error has to do with the motion filed by the state to introduce evidence of other crimes related to claims by the state that Bender failed to report knowledge of child abuse or neglect in another state to authorities in Louisiana. Higgins writes that is "based upon the supposition of a job requirement that does not exist."

The fifth assignment of error relates to the charge of malfeasance in office and circles back to the fourth assignment of error related to the knowledge of child abuse in another state.

Higgins believes that Bender should "not be subjected to trial" on the charges. His trial is set to start the week of May 6.

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