St. John Parish Judge Jeff Perilloux convicted of four sex crimes with juveniles
Sept. 12, 2020
In the same St. John the Baptist Parish Courthouse where he worked, Judge Jeff Perilloux was convicted Saturday of four sex crimes involving juveniles.
The verdicts ended an emotional trial that pitted the testimony of three young women who each said the 40th Judicial District judge touched them inappropriately, against denials from Perilloux and his two daughters, who had been present for some of their father’s crimes.
The six-member jury deliberated for an hour before finding Perilloux, 53, guilty on three felony counts of indecent behavior with a juvenile, in what prosecutors described as inappropriately touching several friends of his daughters. All of them were underage at the time of the episodes, which occurred during Perilloux’s first year in office.
Ad hoc Judge Dennis Waldron found Perilloux guilty of a fourth count, misdemeanor sexual battery.
Waldron did not remand Perilloux into custody after the verdicts. He scheduled sentencing for Oct. 15.Waldron denied a request by prosecutors to attach a GPS anklet to the judge, who has been suspended from the bench for more than two years.
In two of the three felony charges, Perilloux was convicted of inappropriately touching a 15-year-old girl who had been best friends with one of his daughters. The crimes occurred during two separate back massages, in May and June 2017. During one, she testified, he reached over and held a hand over her breast for 15 to 20 seconds.
Also in June of that year, a 14-year-old girl would later tell authorities, Perilloux rubbed sunscreen all over her body against her wishes after she’d repeatedly said she could do it herself. The girl told State Police that Perilloux had grabbed her shorts while he held a running water hose, attempting to place it down her shorts, although she testified over the week-long trial that she couldn’t remember whether he’d actually touched her shorts.
The misdemeanor sexual battery conviction stems from the testimony of a woman who said she was 17 when she endured Perilloux rubbing Vick’s VapoRub liberally across the top of her breasts after she had applied it to her throat. She said the judge did so as he stood in his underwear with no shirt in his LaPlace kitchen.
Over two hours of closing arguments on Saturday, defense attorney Jim Williams attacked the credibility of the victims, particularly the 15-year-old girl.
Prosecutors had introduced evidence from an incident that she had reported, at first reluctantly, to Florida authorities after a beach trip that included Perilloux, his two daughters and three friends. The three friends, including the 15-year-old, all would wind up leaving the trip early.
The 15-year-old told family and then Florida police that Perilloux touched her stomach, reached his fingers inside her swimsuit bottom, asked to reach up her shirt and told her not to be afraid as she backed out of the master bedroom in his condominium.
Williams said the girl gave differing accounts of Perilloux’s actions after she entered his room to ask for an extended curfew for the girls. Florida authorities have not charged Perilloux in that case.
In testimony on Friday, Perilloux said he might have touched the girl, whom he said he considered like a daughter, but only accidentally after waking up startled. He said he’d reached across his shoulder for his phone on the nightstand and might have touched her but didn’t think anything of it and went back to sleep.
“I hate like heck to stand up here and call a young lady a liar,” Williams said Saturday. “The witnesses did not tell the truth.”
Williams said a conviction would require Perilloux to register as a sex offender. “It will destroy his life. It will destroy his family. It will destroy his career,” he said.
He said state prosecutors declined to cross-examine Perilloux’s two daughters, telling the jury that the state couldn’t deny that their testimony contradicted that of the victims.
But Assistant Attorney General Matthew Derbes accused Williams of blaming the victims, and said Perilloux’s daughters were naturally defending their father.
“These are kids who love their dad, worship their dad,” Derbes said. “Shame on him for dragging his kids into this. They’ve suffered enough.”
Derbes told the jury that the evidence pointed to escalating attempts by Perilloux to exploit the girls’ long-standing trust in him.
“Yes, he’s a judge. Yes, he’s got a fancy job. He is a wolf in sheep’s clothing, hiding in plain sight before you,” Derbes said. “The truth is that this is a groomer.”
The felony counts of indecent behavior with a juvenile carry prison sentences of as long as seven years, with no minimum.
Along with Derbes, assistant attorneys general Brooke Harris and Barry Milligan tried the case against Perilloux.
Perilloux’s trial began Tuesday, after numerous delays, in the same courtroom where he was sworn in as a judge. He has remained suspended for more than two years pending the outcome of the criminal case and is currently running for reelection.
The Judiciary Commission of Louisiana has a website, but not any complaint info for the public regarding this judge, from LIT’s review.
Judging Supreme Court Candidates on Monday: What’s Hot Today on LIT? Cheers!
— LawsInTexas (@lawsintexasusa) October 12, 2020