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Jeff Perilloux qualifies for re-election, maintains innocence on all charges

EDGARD — E. Jeffrey Perilloux, a St. John the Baptist Parish judge awaiting trial for alleged indecent behavior with underage females, is running for re-election to the Division B Seat in the 40th Judicial District Court.

Perilloux qualified for the Nov. 3 election Friday morning at the Edgard Courthouse. As of 1:45 p.m. Friday, Nghana Lewis and Leandre Millet of LaPlace have qualified and will be running against Perilloux to become the Division B judge.

Perilloux was elected in December 2016 and began serving the following month following a special election to fill the unexpired term of departing Judge Mary Hotard Becnel. He has been on leave with pay since May 2018 following published accounts of criminal investigations into his behavior with underage females.

Perilloux pleaded not guilty to three felony counts of indecent behavior and one misdemeanor count of sexual battery. In a conversation with L’OBSERVATEUR Friday, Perilloux maintained his innocence and said he is ready to get the trial over with as much as anyone else.

“I’m ready to move on. I’m ready to get back on the bench, and I’m ready to do the job that that people elected me to do. I’m ready to show the public that I’m innocent of these ridiculous allegations,” Perilloux said.

He stated that the past two years have been extremely difficult.

“In all honestly, I can think of no worse experience, besides losing a child, than to go through the experience of being falsely accused of a crime you did not commit, especially one involving harming a child,” Perilloux said.

“I expected this to be over a long time ago. I want to get back to doing the job that I was elected to do, and I’m absolutely confident —100 percent confident — that when this case goes to trial, I will be fully exonerated. I will be found innocent, and the people will finally get to see the facts involved in this case that they have been unable to see, unfortunately, for the last couple of years.”

Perilloux said he has appreciated the opportunity to serve the residents of St. John the Baptist Parish, a community where his ancestors have lived for generations. He believes his life experiences and his 27 years working as a practicing attorney, assistant district attorney and St. John Parish judge have qualified him for re-election.

“I’m asking the residents to return me to the bench to begin another term for six years so I can continue to do the work I was elected to do four years ago,” Perilloux said.

Speaking on his prior experience, Perilloux stated, “I treated the litigants fairly, I listened to all sides before I made a decision, and I continued to apply the law in a fair manner to make sure that the decisions I rendered in cases were sound, just and right. I view being a judge as being a public servant in the highest order in terms of the integrity needed to serve.”

Perilloux’s trial is tentatively scheduled to begin Sept. 8 in Edgard, pending any further COVID-19 delays.

The investigation dates back to July 2017, when authorities in Okaloosa County, Florida were notified of a criminal complaint against Perilloux. Louisiana State Police became involved in the case, which involved a female victim, 15 years old at the time, who alleged that Perilloux placed a hand under her T-shirt and slid his fingers inside her bathing suit bottom during a Florida vacation.

Other felony counts involved inappropriate contact with juveniles that allegedly occurred at a LaPlace home.

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

The trial has been delayed several times. The most recent delay occurred earlier this month, when Ad hoc Judge Dennis Waldron pushed the start date due to COVID-19 safety concerns.

For more information on the Nov. 3 election candidates, visit https://voterportal.sos.la.gov/candidateinquiry, change the election date to 11/03/2020, click “Races in a Parish,” and select “St. John the Baptist – 48” in the drop down menu.

Qualifying ends this afternoon. L’OBSERVATEUR will publish a list of all candidates running for election in Wednesday’s edition.