Update: Cajun Navy director says organization ‘unsupported by local leadership,’ will leave LC
Detectives with the Lake Charles Police Department are actively investigating a recent attempted rape and assault of a female volunteer with the Cajun Navy Ground Force. According to a statement by the disaster relief organization, the volunteer was pulled from her vehicle near the corner of Ryan and Sale streets and then subjected to verbal, physical and sexual assault.
She was then left “lying on the ground with cuts, fingernail scrapes and significant bruising all of which resulted in a torn and tattered shirt and other clothing,” the statement read. The assailants also destroyed the inside of her car and left a threatening note days later.
The victim and the organization have been working with Lake Charles Police since the attack to identify and arrest the assailants.
“Public safety remains our top priority and an assault of any nature is always taken seriously,” Chief of Police Shawn Caldwell said. “We understand the public shock and concern surrounding this incident and I assure you that this incident is receiving the proper attention of the Lake Charles Police Department. As always, we will investigate in a thorough and professional manner.”
The victim reported being attacked with “unthinkable racial slurs” leading the organization to believe racism may have motivated the assault.
“The motive for the attack seems to be a clear effort to demoralize those who are offering assistance to the underserved African American communities within some of the hardest hit areas of Southwest Louisiana,” the statement read.
Rob Gaudet, Cajun Navy Ground Force director, co-authored the organization’s response to the attack and added that the organization has endured much hardship since its arrival to the region.
“We have felt unsupported by the local leadership in the community and this incident is no different.” he said. “We have had only two conversations with the mayor since we’ve been here and the second one was not a pleasant one. We have been told we would be run out of town by other leaders in the community and we just ignored it. But this is now too much.”
The organization will soon move out of the area, though no definitive end of operations date has been set, he said.
“My goal is just to apprehend these guys…Period.”
Anyone with information related to the incident should call LCPD Det. W. Loving at 491-1311.