Leesburg officer accused in sex assault posts bond



LEESBURG, Fla. - A Leesburg police officer who was arrested on sexual battery charges has bonded out of jail, WFTV learned Thursday.

Henri Bart Larue was arrested Wednesday and charged with sexual battery by a law enforcement officer with a firearm, Leesburg police said. His bond was set at $100,000.

He was in court Thursday morning, where a judge decided to keep the bond at $100,000. But Larue was able to post it and was released from jail a couple hours later.

Channel 9 talked with Larue’s attorney, Robert Whitte, who insists Larue is innocent and believes the accuser is making up the allegations.

But the victim's attorney said investigators found DNA evidence linking Larue to the crime, but so far, investigators and prosecutors have not released details about the evidence.

Prosecutors said they would release details of the case when defense makes a request for discovery.

“Henri is a very good man, a father, a husband and quite frankly, a good person in the community,” said Whitte.

Larue is set to be back in court next month.

Investigators said the sexual assault happened in October after a woman was arrested for driving on a suspended license.

On the way to jail, the woman said, Larue drove behind a strip mall, stopped the car and made her perform a sex act.

The victim talked to WFTV and said she started crying and was overwhelmed when she found out Larue was behind bars.

The woman said that after months of waiting, she feared he'd never be arrested.

"I was shocked, ashamed," the woman told WFTV. "I didn't feel I could benefit fighting with him. I felt safer going along with him."

Leesburg police began an investigation at about the same time the Florida Department of Law Enforcement began an investigation into the allegations, Leesburg police said.

"Our position is the same. It's always been the same. There are no facts to support it. There has apparently been an allegation, however there are no facts in the file to support any allegation, but we did file a motion to see what those facts are," said defense attorney Robert Whittel.

Whittel told WFTV reporter Kenneth Craig that Larue is standing by his claims that the sexual battery allegation was completely fabricated and he is innocent.

Whittel said he believes that when the evidence is released, it will show his client's innocence. 

Whittel said when Larue was called to the police department on Wednesday, he thought he was about to be put back on the job. Instead, FDLE agents put him in handcuffs.

"We're mortified. Anytime there (are) allegations of this nature, just the mere allegations of (wrongdoing by) a member of your organization is difficult to deal with," said Capt. Robert Hicks.

According to police, Larue began working for the department in March 2012.

When Larue applied for his job at the Leesburg Police Department he wrote, in a handwritten letter, that as father of small children he wanted to better the community in which he would raise them.

The attorney for the alleged victim said his client was pleased to see an arrest.

"She was gratified that she was listened to. She was gratified that she was believed. She was heartened that maybe justice will prevail," said attorney Mark NeJame.

Larue was placed on paid administrative leave when the allegations were made in October, police said.

Prosecutors won't say what evidence they have, but they did say it was enough to make an arrest.

"The focus of our investigation was, and still is, to get entire truth, and for justice to be served," said Hicks.

WFTV's Kenneth Craig spoke with Larue's wife on the phone Wednesday night. She said she refuses to believe that the charges are true.

If convicted, the father of three could spend the rest of his life in prison.

Larue's wife and sister were in court Thursday to support him, but did not want to comment after the hearing.