A child abuse investigator for the Los Angeles County Department of Children and Family Services was facing possible disciplinary action Wednesday after being arrested for allegedly having sex with a 15-year-old girl, authorities said.
Rod Lautrec Carter, a 45-year-old resident of Highland, was arrested by San Bernardino police Sunday and spent several hours in jail on suspicion of statutory rape before being released on bail, Lt. Dan Keil said.
Police said they found Carter and the girl having sex in a parked car in a residential area. They believe Carter met the girl that night, and they are investigating whether she was a prostitute, Keil said.
Efforts to reach Carter at his home in Highland were unsuccessful.
Carter works as a child abuse investigator assigned to the department's command post, which investigates urgent allegations of abuse or neglect that arrive through the department's hotline after-hours or on weekends, two sources said.
"We can confirm that this employee was not on duty or acting in any official capacity as a DCFS employee at the time of the alleged incident," said department spokesman Nishith Bhatt.
The alleged victim in the incident has never been involved with Los Angeles County's child welfare system, Bhatt said.
Once the department was notified of the alleged crime, county officials launched an independent inquiry that might lead to Carter being fired.
"In any situation in which the allegations raise concerns about the safety of the children and families we serve, we immediately place the employee in question on administrative desk duty pending completion of criminal and internal investigations," Bhatt said.
Bhatt noted that employees on desk duty are not permitted to have contact with children.
The arrest is the latest issue for the department, which has come under scrutiny over the deaths of several children under the county's oversight. A Times series last years highlighted some of the deaths as well as the county's long struggle to improve the way the agency handles abuse and neglect.
On Wednesday, The Times reported on the case of a 2-year-old Long Beach boy who was found dead over the weekend. Nearly two months before his death, the county received a tip that abuse was taking place in the Long Beach home where Joseph Byrd lived.
At the time of his death, however, social workers had yet to determine if Joseph was at risk. Authorities are investigating the case as a possible homicide, though no one has been arrested.