‘Improperly handled’ | Law enforcement officials question local police chief’s handling of rape case against deputy

FORDOCHE — Two separate law enforcement officials are sounding the alarm when it comes to the Fordoche Police Chief and his ability to investigate. This follows a deputy’s call for the chief’s resignation after being wrongfully arrested and charged with first-degree rape.

Chief Jaroed “Tait” Slocum is accused of “multiple missteps” in the rape and voyeurism case against Mason Troth, a deputy with the East Feliciana Sheriff’s Office.

Fordoche Police Chief Tait Slocum

Troth’s name and mugshot were plastered on the majority of news networks after he was labeled a rapist in December 2023. He was accused of first-degree rape of a woman he met on a website. The two had been talking for nearly three months before they decided to meet to have sex. However, days after the alleged consensual hookup, the woman reported that she had been raped by Troth.

READ MORE: Guilty until proven innocent: Mason Troth’s nightmare fight against wrongful rape charges

Listen to our podcast episode where Mason Troth speaks out about what happened.

Chief Slocum was in charge of the investigation that led to Troth’s arrest. However, a grand jury chose to drop the charges saying the evidence did not amount to a rape charge or video voyeurism.

Now Slocum’s investigative methods are being questioned by two high-ranking law enforcement officials and district attorney Tony Clayton.

Captain Cedrick Epps, who investigated the case while at the Pointe Coupee Parish Sheriff’s Office, wrote that he “observed multiple issues” with how Chief Jaroed “Tait” Slocum handled the investigation, according to a February 2024 letter to law enforcement officials obtained by UWK. The core issues were that Slocum allegedly:

  • Mishandled evidence including a rape kit and a cell phone with key evidence on it.
  • Gave “false information” to the DA’s office.
  • Did not take meaningful steps to investigate the alleged crime before arresting Troth.

“Based on the way in which this case was improperly handled, I do not feel that it is safe to have Chief Slocum as the lead investigator on any crimes inside of our parish,” Epps wrote. “Clearly, this form of mediocrity is unacceptable and unfair to the constituents of this great parish.”

Troth spoke out on the “Louisiana Unfiltered” Podcast about the charges he faced and the lack of an initial investigation into the allegations.

“(Slocum) had the evidence there, and he should have reviewed it,” Clayton told UWK. “Ultimately, the actions of Sheriff Jeff Travis and Major Bill Cox, and because of what our investigation revealed, justice was served. Sometimes, the wheel of justice turns slowly, but in this case, justice was served because the deputy was cleared. This was a clear indication in my mind that the deputy should not have been charged with what he was charged.”

UWK asked Clayton if he had concerns when it comes to the Fordoche police chief.

“Any case that comes to me, I thoroughly review it to see if the charges are legitimate. I reviewed this case from the Fordoche police chief, and I didn’t think the charges withstood constitutional muster,” said Clayton. “It’s unfortunate that the deputy had to go through this, but we were able to catch it when it got to us, and corrective actions were put into place.”

Slocum did not answer any questions with much detail when contacted by UWK.

“I’m not commenting on anything in reference to this case,” Slocum said on a call with UWK Wednesday. 

In light of these experiences, Troth has called for Chief Slocum’s resignation. However, Chief Slocum declined to comment on that question as well.

Investigative missteps

A video of the alleged rape was on Troth’s phone and was a key piece of evidence. Epps found Slocum did not initially attempt to seize Troth’s phone and allowed Troth’s father to deliver the phone to deputies, giving time in which Troth “could have destroyed evidence.”

Slocum said that he submitted a rape kit for testing 20 days before he actually did turn it in, in January 2024, per Epps. 

“Sources of information not willing to go on record advised that the sexual assault kit was seen inside of an unsecured refrigerator at the Fordoche Community Center,” Epps wrote. 

Slocum also claimed to have turned in a written narrative for the case, but Epps found that to “be false information.”

Another law enforcement official, and Troth’s supervisor, had concerns about the investigation. Bill Cox, the chief criminal deputy at the East Feliciana Sheriff’s Office, wrote in a separate March 2024 letter obtained by UWK that he was worried about the inquiry’s quality.

“After reading the arrest affidavit, I had significant questions concerning the lack of an investigation into the allegations made against [Deputy] Troth,” Cox wrote. “…At some point during that time Det. Epps contacted me and advised me that he had cleared [Deputy] Troth of any wrongdoing.”

UWK asked Slocum if citizens should be concerned about his ability to investigate crimes in the town of 1,060 people after the letters.

“No, sir,” Slocum said. “I’m not commenting at this time.”

Reaction from the mayor

Fordoche Mayor Teddy Gros had a similar reaction when asked if he had confidence in his town’s police chief. 

“No comment on that right now,” Gros said.

Gros said Slocum occupies an elected position and said he ran unopposed. 

“I wish we had some competition,” Gros said.  

Slocum has been in office since January 2023 and his term will end in January 2026, according to the Louisiana Secretary of State Elected Officials database

Read the letter from Captain Cedrick Epps:

Read the letter from Major Bill Cox:

Letter from Major Bill Cox about the quality of the investigation into Deputy Mason Troth.

Download the Unfiltered with Kiran app from the Apple App Store and Google Play to stay updated on the latest news across the Capital area. 

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