Editor's Note: The following stories are the Top 10 hard news stories for the year 2019, as voted on by the staff of the Livingston Parish News. They will run two per day, with No. 2 and No. 1 coming by themselves on January 1st and 2nd, respectively.
No. 10 - Joe Murphy hired as superintendent
The following stories and series were 'Honorable Mentions:'
- Mosquito Abatement proposals fail
- United Way says 27% of Livingston Parish is employed, but can't afford basic necessities; 13% live in poverty
- School system gets $80 million in improved real estate at no cost
- 2,000 homes sell in 2019
- Premier Concrete tries to skirt permitting process
- Parish fights on dirt fill ordinance, passes freeboard
- Assessor's race shows division in Livingston Parish
- State senate race gets nasty
- Hurricane Barry fizzles, but early flooding forecast shows Livingston Parish still concerned
- Walker hosts special drainage town hall
- Sheriff announces plan for $8 million training facility
A grand jury has indicted a former high-ranking Livingston Parish Sheriff’s Office lieutenant and his wife, a former middle school teacher, on a total of 150 counts, including rape, producing child pornography, and sexual abuse of an animal.
A Livingston Parish grand jury was presented the case against Dennis Perkins, 44, and Cynthia Perkins, 34, in the Livingston Parish Courthouse Tuesday morning and unanimously agreed to add more than two dozen counts to the original charges the couple faced when they were arrested in October.
Dennis and Cynthia Perkins now face a total of 150 counts. In addition to the previous counts involving producing and possession of child pornography, rape, obscenity, and video voyeurism, they now face counts of attempted rape, sexual battery of a child under 13 years old, mingling of harmful substances, and sexually abusing an animal.
The animal was described as a ‘dog’ in the indictment, while the mingling of harmful substances was outlined as ‘ejaculating’ on pastries and in energy drinks.
The two were both arrested in late October, the result of a joint investigation between the Attorney General’s Office and the Louisiana Bureau of Investigation (LBI), Louisiana State Police, and Livingston Parish Sheriff’s Office.
The investigation was initiated following a tip from the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children regarding the possible possession and distribution of child pornography, Attorney General Jeff Landry said at the time.
Assistant Attorney General Matt Derbes spoke with reporters in front of the Livingston Parish Courthouse following the grand jury indictment. He said the investigation is ongoing and that the Louisiana Attorney General’s Office is dealing with “a mountain of evidence.”
“It’s horrific,” Derbes said. “The allegations are horrific. We’re not going to get into great detail. Our concern from Day 1 is to protect the privacy of these victims and respect what they’re going through and to not give any details that could potentially divulge the identity of these victims.”
The grand jury indicted Dennis Perkins on a total of 78 counts, which included the following: five counts of first degree rape, one count of attempted first degree rape, three counts of sexual battery of a child under age of 13, four counts of video voyeurism, one count of mingling of harmful substances, one count of obscenity, one count of possession of child pornography, 61 counts of producing child pornography, and one count of sexually abusing an animal.
Cynthia Perkins was indicted on 72 counts, which included the following: three counts of first degree rape, one count of attempted first degree rape, four counts of sexual battery of a child under age of 13, one count of mingling of harmful substances, two counts of video voyeurism, and 61 counts of producing child pornography.
The grand jury’s report listed four total victims — Juvenile Victim 1, Juvenile Victim 2, Adult Victim 1, Adult Victim 2 — in its findings. The alleged crimes go back as far as November 2014 through July 2019, according to the report.
Dennis and Cynthia Perkins both remain in custody without bond.
“We’re very confident, given the charges, that they’re not going to get out of jail before the trial,” Derbes said.
The two could face “multiple life sentences” and up to 6,000 years in prison, Derbes added.
“At some point, we’re confident we’ll hit a tipping point where we’ll send the message that you’ll go to jail for a very, very long time,” Derbes said.
Livingston Parish Public Schools Superintendent Joe Murphy said the school system is aware of the new charges Cynthia Perkins, a former ELA teacher at Westside Junior High, faces but would provide no further comment at this time. Perkins resigned from her position on the day of her arrest.
In a statement released after Dennis Perkins was arrested, Sheriff Jason Ard said Perkins was a lieutenant in his office who was over “Special Operations” before being terminated when Landry’s office presented Ard with evidence of the alleged crimes. He had served at the Livingston Parish Sheriff’s Office since 2002.
Immediately following the Grand Jury hearing on Wednesday, a law suit was filed against Dennis and Cynthia Perkins, as well as the school board, on the basis of counts No. 15 and No. 89 - the once-rumored ‘cupcakes,’ which contained Dennis’ ejaculate, and are alleged to have been served to Cynthia’s students.
With the publicizing via the indictment, a parent whose child was involved immediately filed suit through Gordon McKernan against Dennis Perkins, Cynthia Perkins, and the Livingston Parish School Board. The suit, which describes the student as ‘Jane Doe,’ alleges five charges against Cynthia, four against Dennis, and four against the Livingston Parish School Board.
Thursday was initially supposed to be a day for initial motions for Dennis’ defense, up until it was announced just last week that his attorney from Baton Rouge - David Bourland - was seeking a motion to be removed from the case. Bourland described a ‘disagreement between he and his client’ on the nature of his defense.
Jarrett Ambeau, of Baton Rouge, has taken up the defense for Dennis Perkins after Bourland was granted leave Thursday. Ambeau’s website describes him as a diligent, honest, and experienced trial attorney.
From there, both Cynthia and Dennis Perkins entered pleas of ‘not guilty’ to the 150 charges brought before them by the grand jury. A trial date has not yet been set. Initially, Thursday’s proceedings had only been set for Dennis Perkins. However, Cynthia’s next trial date had not been set at her initial motions, in favor of waiting for the AG’s report - which came in the form of the indictment.
Also on Thursday, Cynthia filed for divorce from Dennis Perkins. According to divorce documents filed at the courthouse, Cynthia had become fearful of Dennis due to “repeated threats.”