ST. JOHN THE BAPTIST PARISH, La. — A disgraced former St. John the Baptist Parish judge was sent to jail on the spot during a dramatic and emotional court hearing Thursday, even though he will not be sentenced until Monday for inappropriately touching three teenaged girls.
In ordering Jeff Perilloux taken into custody, ad-hoc Judge Dennis Waldron described the former judge as a “potential danger to himself and the community.” Perilloux and his attorneys had expected his sentence to be handed down at Thursday’s hearing.
The move signals a potentially harsh prison sentence for Perilloux, 53, who faces up to 21 years behind bars.
Waldron’s order to remand Perilloux came after his attorneys tried a Hail Mary motion for a new trial. That was quickly rejected by Waldron, followed by withering victim impact testimony from one of the young girls who tearfully described the lasting trauma of her experience.
Perrilloux was convicted on three counts of indecent behavior with a juvenile and one misdemeanor count of sexual battery after groping his teenage daughter's close friends. His victims were 14, 15 and 17-years old at the time the crimes were committed.
The victims all took the witness stand at trial, tearfully testifying about Perrilloux flirting, offering massages and eventually escalating into touching their private parts. The victims brought jurors to tears during their testimony, and one of them on Thursday again recounted the anguish and powerlessness she experienced.
Perilloux’s ex-wife and two daughters also testified Thursday, continuing to profess his innocence.
Perilloux resigned from the bench one week after he was convicted. In the two years leading up to his trial, Perilloux had been suspended with pay as judge of the 40th Judicial District, but had nevertheless qualified to run to keep his seat in the Nov. 3 election.
Perilloux took the stand during his trial, denying that his actions were sexual, saying, in one instance, he was merely rubbing lotion on a girl’s back. In another instance, he admitted applying vapor rub to the 17-year-old’s chest, but denied groping her breasts.
In response to testimony from the that he intentionally had reached under her shirt, Perilloux defended his actions.
“I pulled her t-shirt a little to put it on the top of her chest,” he told the jury under oath. “I didn't touch her breasts. Period.”
However, Perilloux admitted that he was wearing only underwear when he applied the vapor rub to a 17-year-old's chest, the basis for the misdemeanor sexual battery charge. Under cross-examination, he also admitted he had once bought alcohol for the underage girls on a beach trip.
In a prior exchange with reporters outside the Edgard courthouse where he once presided, Perilloux was asked if he had given inappropriate massages to a 15-year-old.
“I wasn't giving her massages. I was simply rubbing her neck,” he responded.
Because local prosecutors were forced to recuse themselves, the case was prosecuted by attorneys from the state Attorney General’s office. In a statement, the AG’s office said, “We are satisfied with the outcome of today’s hearing, and we look forward to Monday’s sentencing so these survivors can get the justice they deserve.”
In a previously filed sentencing memorandum, prosecutors recommended 20 years in prison.
“The defendant used his position as someone who the victims and the families viewed as loving and trustworthy in order to both facilitate and conceal these crimes,” they wrote. “He violated this trust multiple times in order to arouse or gratify his own sexual desires.”
The memo continued, “The defendant continues to deny committing these crimes and has shown no remorse whatsoever for the crimes he committed and the trauma he subjected his young victims to.”