Paul Murphy / Eyewitness News
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CHALMETTE, La. -- A grand jury has indicted St. Bernard Parish President Dave Peralta on one criminal count.

It stems from a rape allegation made by his estranged wife last October.

The grand jury met for most of the day. It took them about an hour of deliberations to come back with a single charge of sexual battery against Peralta.

Peralta's wife Sharon left the St. Bernard courthouse after spending about 90 minutes testifying before a parish grand jury.

She has accused her estranged husband, the St. Bernard Parish president, of raping her at their home in Meraux last October on her 49th birthday. She also claims Peralta beat and handcuffed her.

The grand jury considered a number of charges, including forcible rape. But after several witnesses testified, it handed out a single count indictment against Peralta for sexual battery. It carries a 10-year sentence if convicted.

'These kind of cases are tough when you have a victim and someone has been in a marital relationship, and what the facts show was a violent type of offense,' said David Caldwell with the Louisiana Attorney General's Office.

The grand jury decided that the process needed to move forward.

His attorney, Steve London, said whatever went on between Peralta and his then-wife was consensual.

'For my two cents worth, there is no evidence against him,' he said.

Sharon Peralta's attorney, Vernon Thomas, sent us this statement:

'Sharon Peralta has always told the truth. Dave Peralta has changed his story many times. For Mr. Peralta to say he raped his wife to fulfill her fantasy on her birthday is ludicrous. If he was not the parish president he would have been arrested the night of the rape.'

Peralta will surrender Thursday at 9:15 a.m. He will appear before Judge Jacque Sanborn Thursday at that time and bond will be set.

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