MIAMI (CBS4) – An investigator with the Department of Child and Families accused of sexual misconduct with a foster child has been arrested in New York.
Jean Lacroix 46, was reportedly trying to flee to the Dominican Republic, according to CBS4 news partner The Miami Herald.
“ASAs (Assistant State Attorneys) Brenda Mezick & Court Keeley, MDPD Det. Jeanette Azcuy & ICE ASAC Tonya Marshall went to extraordinary lengths to bring this man into custody as he tried to flee the country,” said State Attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle in a statement. “But for those who work child exploitation & human trafficking cases, extraordinary efforts are just part of the everyday routine.”
Investigators learned LaCroix caught a flight out to the Dominican Republic Saturday morning. They then contact customs agents in the Dominican Republic to refuse LaCroix entry. They did, and LaCroix was immediately returned to New York, where he was taken into custody.
Prosecutors believe LaCroix ultimately was headed for Haiti, where he grew up, which shares the island of Hispaniola with the Dominican Republic.
Four men accused of running the ring were arrested last week. CBS4 obtained a copy of a search warrant issued for Lacroix’s work-issued cell phone. The warrant allows police officers to access Lacroix’s call history, text messages and any other communication he may have had with the alleged victim using that phone.
The warrant was issued in May. It indicates a 17-year-old girl in foster care admitted to Miami-Dade Police that she engaged in consensual sexual intercourse on numerous occasions with her DCF case worker, Jean Lacroix.
It further stated the alleged victim said she called and sent text messages to Lacroix and that he would arrange to pick her up from school, take her to his residence, where they allegedly had consensual sex.
“He was an excellent man, an excellent man,” said Lacroix’s friend Jean Clayvil. “I don’t believe it.”
Clayvil says he tried calling Lacroix on his DCF cell phone a couple of weeks ago, but wasn’t able to speak with him until he saw him at their church.
“I said ‘I called you’, and he told me he doesn’t have this phone number no more. He told me the company doesn’t want him to use the phone anymore.” Clayvil said Lacroix didn’t offer an explanation as to why.
According to the search warrant, Lacroix’s case work involving the alleged victim began in September of 2011 and ended in October, but indicated the two stayed in touch on his personal cell phone after he was instructed not to by his supervisor.
Lacroix was placed on administrative leave in May. DCF Secretary David E. Wilkins has since released this statement:
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.
LaCroix has been charged with five counts of unlawful sexual activity with a minor.
CBS4 news partner The Miami Herald contributed to this report.