NOPD cop indicted for sex crimes

Desmond Pratt, suspended NOPD officer, indicted today for sexually assaulting three teenagers
Desmond Pratt, suspended NOPD officer, indicted today for sexually assaulting three teenagers

A New Orleans police officer who was booked in April after a 15-year-old girl accused him of sexual assault now faces allegations dating back to the late 1990s involving two more teenage victims, according to a state grand jury indictment handed up Thursday.

Desmond Pratt, Sr., 43, a former NOPD homicide detective with 15 years on the force, now faces charges of aggravated incest, sexual battery and carnal knowledge of a juvenile. Criminal District Judge Julian Parker upped his bond to $500,000.

Pratt had been free on $50,000 bond and assigned an electronic monitor since not long after his arrest, online court records show. A Sixth District cop before his arrest, he has since remained on suspension without pay, according to the department.

The indictment repeats the accusation of aggravated incest of a 15-year-old girl from Pratt’s April arrest. But it also adds new counts of alleged sexual battery of a then-15-year-old girl sometime between August and December of 2001 and alleged carnal knowledge of a 13-year-old sometime from August 17, 1997 to a year later.

After the initial charges against Pratt were filed in April, a Texas woman contacted New Orleans Police Department investigators to say that she was abused by Pratt in 1997 while a student at a New Orleans public school, according to an NOPD news release. Sgt. Arnold Williams, a sex crimes investigator, and Sgt. Darryl Watson, with the NOPD’s internal affairs division, interviewed the woman in Texas.

Investigators also unearthed an old complaint against Pratt from 2001, when another victim accused him of abusing her at another New Orleans public school. At the time, NOPD detectives determined the case to be “inconclusive,” according to the department. But Williams and Watson reopened it and gathered enough evidence to lead to one of the sexual battery charges, the release said.

As a homicide detective, Pratt played a key role in the sprawling investigation of murder, high-volume drug dealing and other crimes tied to alleged Uptown crime mogul Telly Hankton and his clan in a sprawling federal racketeering indictment.

And his recent legal troubles have become fodder for Hankton’s attorneys. At a recent federal court hearing, they aimed to cast Pratt as a suspect detective, based both on the rape allegations and questions over whether he withheld a witness statement in another murder case.

U.S. Magistrate Judge Alma Chasez ordered federal prosecutors to look into any questionable investigative conduct by Pratt and turn it over to the defense.

Pratt had not been booked on the new counts as of Thursday afternoon, according to online records.