NEW ORLEANS — Roderick Clanton was booked last week with carnal knowledge of a juvenile. The 23-year-old is accused of having consensual sex with a 15-year-old girl.
But it's not the crime that's noteworthy. It's the location. Clanton allegedly was caught in the act inside the criminal courthouse at Tulane and Broad.
The court employee who caught the pair in the act said he went to the men's bathroom on the first floor and saw two pairs of legs sticking from the bottom of a bathroom stall. He said he went out to get security and sheriff's deputies responded immediately.
Community activist Walter Umrani, a courthouse regular, could hardly believe it.
“The event that happened in the restroom here is unspeakable,” Umrani said. “Right in the seat of power in the of justice in the criminal justice system. It just speaks to the lack of respect and the morale decline in our city.”
By all accounts, the response from sheriff's deputies assigned to the courthouse was immediate.
Major Melvin Howard, head of courthouse security, said his deputies are trained to watch for anything out of the ordinary.
"Security in this building is always at a heightened level,” Howard said. “You never know, and I constantly tell the deputies be prepared for the unexpected. Always be suspicious. Don't take anything for granted."
Howard said last week's arrest is uncommon, but to him it's a sign that the courthouse security is working.
"This incident is rare, but I'm glad the deputies were vigilant and they were proactive,” Howard said.
Clanton is being held on a $10,000 bond and several outstanding warrants from Jefferson Parish.
The 15-year-old girl was taken into custody as a juvenile and later released to her family.