EDGARD, LA (WVUE) - A state grand jury returned a four-count indictment Monday against Jeff Perilloux, a sitting judge on leave, involving allegations of sexual battery against teenage girls.
"It's always unusual. You expect elected officials, especially those who are upholding the law, to do their job. This is unusual and disappointing," said veteran criminal defense attorney Bobby Hjortsberg.
The indictment alleges that on three occasions, beginning in May of 2017, Perilloux committed indecent behavior with three juveniles. A fourth count alleges that Perrilloux committed misdemeanor sexual battery.
"Anytime you have multiple people like this, it bolsters the state's case. You don't have just two, you have three, which will make the defense more difficult for him," said Hjortsberg.
Perilloux stepped off the bench last month when the allegations first surfaced. At least one of the alleged incidents occurred in Destin, FLA, where the sheriff's office there confirmed it was investigating a complaint last year.
Legal experts say if convicted, Perilloux could serve more than 20 years in jail and lose his ability to serve as judge.
"In my opinion, I don't think it's likely he will ever sit again as a judge. If he's cleared, it's possible, but it's unlikely he will ever sit again," said Hjortsberg.
Perilloux's attorney, David Courcelle, told FOX 8, "Judge Perilloux maintains he's done nothing improper, and he plans to mount a vigorous defense against allegations that will be difficult for all to prove in court."
"Without question, it's difficult for the victims. Many times this will work out in a plea because the victims don't want to go to court or they are too afraid to come forward," said Hjortsberg.
Perilloux's caseload is now being handled by retired Judge Mary Becnel.
The Supreme Court will appoint an outside judge to handle Perilloux's first appearance and trial. All of the St. John judges have recused themselves.
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