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Judge Perilloux trial nears; prosecution evidence ruled admissible

EDGARD — A criminal trial for St. John the Baptist Parish Judge E. Jeffrey Perilloux is set to begin at 9:30 a.m. March 11 at the Edgard Courthouse.

Perilloux, 51, pleaded not guilty in July to three felony counts of indecent behavior and one misdemeanor count of sexual battery involving alleged contact with 14-, 15-, 16- and 18-year old victims between May and December 2017.

The St. John Clerk of Court reported the misdemeanor trial would be conducted contemporaneously with the felony trial.

A pre-trial conference is set for 12:30 p.m. Feb. 5 to resolve any additional conflicts that may arise, according to prosecuting attorney Matthew B. Derbes.

At this time, prosecutors with the Louisiana Attorney General Jeff Landry’s Office, led by Derbes, do not anticipate any roadblocks to trial.

During a recent convening in Edgard, Judge Dennis Waldron ruled photos, videos and other evidence presented by the state would be admissible in the upcoming trial.

According to Derbes, evidence includes text messages between Perilloux and the victims “in which Perilloux would tell them, ‘you’re beautiful,’ that he loved them or that he wanted to spend time with them alone.”

Derbes said the state seeks to prove Perilloux had “motive and intent” to gratify his sexual desire during interactions with the teenaged victims.

The state alleges Perilloux gave massages and rubbed sunscreen and medicinal lotion near the breasts and other body parts of underage girls in his St. John the Baptist Parish home.

In a 16-page ruling delivered last week in Edgard, Waldron said additional allegations would be allowed in court if it aids the prosecution’s argument that Perilloux maintained a lustful disposition toward the victims.

“We are extremely pleased that the jury will have the benefit of having all of the evidence in this case for a complete picture of what happened and why,” Derbes said. “We look forward to the trial and resolving this matter.”

Perilloux’s defense, led by attorney David Courcelle, did not respond to L’OBSERVATEUR’s requests for comment.

In previous comments to L’OBSERVATEUR, Perilloux has maintained his innocence.

Neither side has announced whether the alleged young victims will be asked to testify.

Allegations

A grand jury returned a four-count true bill indictment June 25, charging Perilloux with three felony counts of indecent behavior and one misdemeanor count of sexual battery.

According to the Attorney General’s Office, the misdemeanor charge involves a December 2017 incident with an 18-year-old victim while she was at a sleepover with Perilloux’s teenage daughter.

When the 18-year-old claimed she was not feeling well, Perilloux opted to apply vapor rub to the victim, allegedly reaching under her shirt while she was wearing no bra and touching the sides of her breasts as he applied the medicine.

According to the A.G.’s office, the incident made the victim “uncomfortable,” and she “slept with a locked door that night.”

The Louisiana prosecution contends the vapor rub incident took place after Florida authorities confronted Perilloux about inappropriate contact with a 15-year-old girl during a June 2017 vacation.

The 15-year-old and Perilloux’s daughter allegedly approached Perilloux as he was lying in the bedroom of a vacation condo to ask about a curfew extension.

According to the prosecution, once Perilloux’s daughter left the room, Perilloux placed his hand under the minor’s T-shirt and slipped his fingers into her bikini bottom.

Perilloux told police he might have touched her when reaching over for his phone on the nightstand of the darkened room.

The minor was said to have been visibly upset and crying when she left the room and contacted her parents to pick her up the next day.

In separate incidents reported to have occurred between May and June of 2017, Perilloux was said to have given an alleged victim two massages, at one point “stroking her breasts for nearly 30 seconds.”

Perilloux was also said to have rubbed sunscreen near the breasts of a different victim when she and Perilloux’s daughter were outside playing on a slip and slide.

The prosecution claims Perilloux sent text messages to the victims, including a photo taken from underneath while one of the minors was walking up stairs, followed by a photo of Perilloux’s naked legs from the thighs down and three red heart emojis.

History

Perilloux has been on leave from the bench since voluntarily stepping down May 16 following published accounts of multiple criminal investigations into his behavior with underage females.

Judge Edward Gaidry is handling the duties of the 40th Judicial District Court Division B during Perilloux’s leave.

Perilloux was elected judge in December 2016 and began serving the following month following an election to fill the unexpired term of departing Judge Mary Hotard Becnel.

The 40th Judicial District Court covers St. John Parish and is divided into three divisions. The general jurisdiction court hears civil, criminal, traffic, juvenile, family and probate matters.

Perilloux previously served for a dozen years as an assistant district attorney in St. John Parish. He was also a legal counsel representative for St. John the Baptist Parish Government.

Perilloux was arrested in 2010 for drunken driving, an arrest that included dash-cam footage of Perilloux telling State Police “I am the parish attorney. I’m not some lowlife.”

The DWI charge was expunged, and prosecutors did not pursue additional charges.