By TOM GARDNER
PUBLISHED: 04:46 EST, 2 July 2012 | UPDATED: 04:47 EST, 2 July 2012
- Jean LaCroix, 46, is accused of five counts of unlawful sex with 17-year-old who had been placed in his care
Jean LaCroix, pictured, has been accused of having sex with a girl he was meant to be protecting
A social worker has been arrested during a major investigation into an alleged child foster care prostitution ring.
Jean LaCroix, 46, who has been suspended as an investigator for Florida’s Department of Children and Families (DCF), is accused of five counts of having sex with a vulnerable 17-year-old he was supposed to be protecting from abuse.
LaCroix is the fifth man to be arrested as part of an ongoing probe into claims a ring of human traffickers was targeting and abusing neglected children in foster care in Miami.
Four other men have been accused of using a child as a ‘recruiter’ to lure young vulnerable girls from the care system into becoming prostitutes.
The 17-year-old is said to have told Miami-Dade Police that she and the case worker had ‘consensual sexual intercourse on numerous occasions’.
According to a search warrant obtained by CBS Miami, LaCroix would pick the alleged victim up from school and take her to his home where they would have sex.
The warrant also states the alleged victim was placed in the care of LaCroix for a month between September and October 2011, but phone records indicate that they had been engaged in a relationship for much longer – even after LaCroix was told to cut all contact by his supervisor.
Secretary of DCF Secretary David Wilkins released a statement which said: ‘This alleged behaviour 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 is also accused of trying to flee the country.
He is alleged to have booked flights to the Dominican Republic, but been turned back to the U.S. by customs and arrested when he returned to New York on Saturday.
Esther Jacobo, DCF’s regional supervisor, told CBS Miami that the agency took swift action, placing LaCroix on paid administrative leave, confiscating his state-issued cell phone, and limiting his access to files and children.
Anturrell Nathaniel Dean, left, Willie Calvin Bivens, right, were charged with conspiracy, racketeering and unlawful sexual activity with a minor during the investigation into a foster care prostitution ring
Eric George Earle, left, David Zarifi, right, also face charges of conspiracy, racketeering and unlawful sexual activity with a minor
‘We did not fire him immediately in part because law enforcement asked us not to fire him immediately so that they could conduct appropriate investigations and prosecute the case.’
Last week, police charged Eric George Earle, 29, called ‘E-Nasty,’ Willie Calvin Bivens, 65, called ‘Tank,’ Anturrell Nathaniel Dean, 30, and David Zarifi, 34, with conspiracy, racketeering and unlawful sexual activity with a minor.
A fifth person – a 17-year-old foster child who is identified only by the initials S.S. – is listed in a 13-page sworn statement as a ‘recruiter’ for the ring, though she is not charged with any crimes.
Using a teenage foster child as a recruiter, police say, the four men plied underage girls with cash, affection and gifts.
The alleged pimps would then charge men $100 to have sex with the girls – who would be paid a fraction of that money.