Merryville reserve officer fired after arrest on rape, drug charges

Merryville reserve officer fired after arrest on rape, drug charges
(Source: VPSO)

LAKE CHARLES, La. (KPLC) - A Merryville reserve officer has been fired following his arrest on rape and drug charges, according to Sheriff Sam Craft with the Vernon Parish Sheriff’s Office.

Roland Harrison, 38, of Leesville, is accused of sexually assaulting and giving drugs to a 16-year-old boy, Craft said. Harrison was employed by the Merryville Police Department as a Reserve Patrolman.

The investigation began when officers with the Leesville Police Department were called to an area near Concord Avenue and 5th Street regarding a disorderly male juvenile.

Upon arrival Leesville police met with Harrison, who alleged that a 16-year-old male in his care had hit him and then jumped out of a vehicle, Craft said.

The investigation revealed that Harrison was staying at a local motel with another 18-year-old male.

According to Craft, officers with Leesville Police met with the 18-year-old, who said he suspected Harrison was having inappropriate sexual contact with the 16-year-old. The witness then told the officer that Harrison referred to the juvenile male as his son but there was no blood relation between the two.

Leesville Police then contacted the Vernon Parish Sheriff’s Office, which conducted a second interview with the 18-year-old male. The witness said he had seen Harrison performing lewd and sexual acts in the presence of and on the 16-year-old victim, Craft said.

Detectives began looking for the juvenile and were able to locate him a short time later. The victim was questioned and during an extensive interview the juvenile indicated that Harrison had sexually assaulted him on several occasions, Craft said. The juvenile also claimed that Harrison had given him narcotics.

According to Craft, the juvenile went on to say that he and Harrison had a verbal altercation that night and Harrison shot his police taser at the juvenile. The juvenile told investigators that he ran into the bathroom and the Taser prongs hit the door of the bathroom, barely missing him, Craft said.

At that point, detectives contacted Chief Robert Thompson and Asst. Chief Josh Foster with Merryville Police. Merryville authorities were told about the investigation involving Harrison and told Vernon Parish investigators that Harrison was hired as a reserve patrolman in July 2019.

Detectives then prepared and executed a search warrant for Harrison’s vehicle and hotel room. Vernon Parish Detectives, Narcotic Task Force Agents, and Leesville Police Officers all assisted in the execution of the search warrant at the hotel.

Harrison was taken into custody without incident.

According to Craft, Vernon Parish detectives spoke with Harrison and during the interview, he admitted to the allegations of sexual contact and drug abuse made against him by the juvenile male.

At that time, Merryville Police Chief Thompson terminated Harrison.

Upon further investigation of Harrison’s possessions, Merryville Police determined that some police gear had been removed by the suspect without the permission of his supervisors.

Harrison is facing charges of second-degree rape, five counts of indecent behavior with a juvenile, one count of contributing to the delinquency of a juvenile involving drugs, one count of simple assault, and one count of distribution of a Schedule II drug.

His bond was set at $250,000 by Judge Scott Westerchil.

Harrison remains in the Vernon Parish Jail and the investigation is ongoing. Additional charges are expected.

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