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Reality TV Turns Surreal as Celebrity Cop Steven Seagal, Fleeing Sexual Assault Investigation in Louisiana, Joins Joe Arpaio in Cockfighting Raid

The world of media-friendly "tough-guy" law enforcement sunk into self-parody this week.

The world of celebrity 'tough-guy' law enforcement took a bizarre turn this week when chubby middle-aged action hero Steven Seagal, a SWAT team and two tanks accompanied controversial Maricopa County, AZ Sheriff Joe Arpaio on a daring raid that resulted in the arrest of a single unarmed man charged with raising chickens for cockfights.

The raid accomplished its primary objective – getting the media to pay Arpaio some attention – but it wasn't the end of the story. After the action, Seagal told reporters that he had been operating “on loan” from the Jefferson Parrish sheriff's department outside New Orleans, which had been hosting his A & E “reality” show, Steven Seagal: Lawman . But according to Stephen Lemons of the Phoenix New Times , Seagal, who had been a reserve officer in Jefferson Parrish, wasn't in fact “on loan” from the sheriff's department – he had resigned his position rather than face an internal affairs investigation into “allegations of sex trafficking and sexual assault raised in a 2010 lawsuit by an ex-employee.”

According to Lemons,

"[Seagal] was facing an internal affairs investigation immediately following the outcome of his lawsuit," said [Jefferson Parrish Sheriff Newell Normand] via his spokesman. "And he refused to return to Jefferson Parish, at which time he tendered his resignation."

...In her lawsuit, ex-swimsuit model Kayden Nguyen accused Seagal of sex trafficking and creating a hostile work environment by groping her and making unwanted sexual advances toward her.

The complaint... stated that she was hired through a Craigslist ad to be Seagal's executive assistant as Seagal filmed his reality show in Jefferson Parish, just outside of New Orleans.

But Nguyen alleged that, "what the production company really wanted was an 'Attendant' to provide sex on demand to Mr. Seagal..."

The lawsuit, reported last year by the celebrity gossip site TMZ, is full of salacious if somewhat mysterious details about the aging action star's proclivities, including repeated references to “Mr. Seagal's unique physiological reaction to sexual arousal.”

Nguyen later dropped the lawsuit -- TMZ reports that it was “unclear” from the filing whether a settlement had been reached. But the internal affairs investigation was going to proceed independent of the civil suit.

So, as the New Times put it, “after the allegations in the lawsuit were made public, Sheriff Normand called a halt to the filming of  Steven Seagal: Lawman . And A&E had to find another sheriff, one so crass in his drive for publicity that he wouldn't care about the scandal.” Enter Joe Arpaio.

Last fall, the show-boating sheriff announced that Seagal, Lou Ferrigno, who played The Incredible Hulk, and actor Peter Lupus – best known as the muscle man in the original Mission Impossible series – would be joining a special “immigration posse” which would assist the Maricopa County Sheriff's Office (MCSO) in its much-celebrated round-ups of undocumented workers. The Tucson Citizen reported that the swearing in “took on an air of pomp and circumstance because” of the washed-up b-listers' presence.

Arpaio's focus has always been on promoting himself -- enforcing the law comes in as a distant afterthought. The sheriff, best known for his “tent camp” and pink-clad chain gangs, even had his own short-lived TV show called “Smile … You're Under Arrest” on Fox Reality a few years back. According to the Associated Press, the MCSO “used taxpayer money to offer up sworn deputies, office space, equipment and helicopters to Hollywood producers without being reimbursed.” The AP added, “What taxpayers received in return was a three-episode run of the show.”

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