LIVINGSTON PARISH, La. (WAFB) - Livingston Parish Sheriff Jason Ard is defending himself, as well as the Livingston Parish Sheriff’s Office (LPSO), when it comes to Dennis Perkins, who is facing numerous child porn and child rape charges.
“I ask myself every day, ‘How did this happen?’ We have deputies going around my office going, ‘How did this happen?’ We don’t know. If we did, it wouldn’t have happened, but unfortunately, it did,” said Sheriff Ard. “He betrayed us. He is a criminal. He did criminal acts is what he did.”
A Baton Rouge Police officer went to Sheriff Ard directly in 2013, telling him Perkins was found in the bed with the officer’s young step-daughter in the middle of the night.
“He [the officer] got up, he left. It was over with when he left. I took it upon myself to go ahead and ask those questions and make sure if anything did happen. [I asked Perkins], ‘Are you doing anything inappropriate? If you are, you better not let me find out. It will be dealt with,’” said Sheriff Ard.
Ard says when he questioned Perkins, he denied it, meaning there was nothing criminal and nothing to investigate. The sheriff says the officer never put the complaint in writing.
"He's a law enforcement professional, and all law enforcement officers know one thing for a fact. If you don't write it down, it didn't happen. He should be ashamed of himself for not reporting that," said Sheriff Ard.
KIRAN: Looks like the finger is pointed at you. Did the sheriff not do anything? Did the sheriff turn a blind eye when things were being reported to you about Dennis Perkins?
SHERIFF ARD: Absolutely not. This is my question about this deal involving this officer’s stepdaughter. Why hasn’t the mother of that child come forward? Why has she not made a report?
That mother, whose identity we’re protecting, says she’s respecting her daughter’s wishes, but did issue a statement Wednesday, Oct. 30:
“In 2013, it was brought to my attention that Denny Perkins crawled into bed in the middle of the night with my 11-year-old daughter. My only concern, then and now, is my child. I immediately brought her to a counselor. My husband at the time was handling the legal side of it and went to the sheriff. There was no reason for me to 'come forward’ to file a complaint, as he was handling that part of the situation."
Louisiana State Police (LSP) was made aware of that incident in 2013, but told the 9News Investigators Tuesday, Oct. 29 they tossed the case back to LPSO.
“I know a third party made the state police aware of this, who basically I had a discussion with and we agreed there was nothing criminal, so there was no formal investigation done and no criminal activity so that stopped that,” said Sheriff Ard.
KIRAN: Did it raise any suspicion for you as to the claim he was bringing forth?
SHERIFF ARD: Any time you get a complaint, there is a suspicion, right? So you have to go through that, but at the end of the day, if there is no crime committed, therefore no one is going to be arrested.
LSP interviewed that officer the week Perkins was arrested. Troopers say the officer admitted he did not think an actual crime had been committed, but that a counselor told him at the time she believed Perkins was “grooming” her for potential inappropriate behavior in the future.
LSP officials said Wednesday they have now closed their investigation into that 2013 incident, having found no criminal misconduct.
The 9News Investigators went digging into Perkins’ past. He started with the Walker Police Department in 1998. On that application was a question: Have you ever tried or used a marijuana product? Perkins marked “yes.” The top name on his reference list when applying at Walker PD was Jason Ard.
Four years into that job, Perkins was the target of an internal affairs investigation for calling in sick while going to a wedding and a bar, according to documents. The outcome of that investigation showed "Cpl. Perkins did abuse his sick leave on two separate occasions and is guilty of two counts of insubordination."
During that investigation, Perkins was trying to transfer to LPSO. In fact, the day he was found guilty of insubordination at Walker PD was also Perkins’ first day on the job at the sheriff’s office: April 23, 2002. While applying with LPSO though, his application included more questions. The questions and Perkins’ responses are below:
- Did you ever try/use narcotics or dangerous drugs illegally? - Yes
- Have you ever tried/used marijuana? - Yes
- Have you ever stolen any merchandise from former employers? - Yes
The 9News Investigators also found when Perkins was applying to become a school DARE officer, he said on his application, “I also love children and would love to share the anti-drug message to our community’s youth.”
Aside from that, the 9News Investigators found numerous awards, certificates, and letters of commendations for Perkins while at Walker PD and LPSO.
KIRAN: Have you had any claims come forward from anybody else in the public on Dennis Perkins over the years?
SHERIFF ARD: We have not. I have no incidents involving Perkins. When you look in his file, all Perkins has ever done in this office is promote.
KIRAN: What do you say to the victims’ families?
SHERIFF ARD: Look, my heart goes out to them. I am a father and I cannot even begin to imagine what they have to be going through. This is a very hurtful situation for them.
KIRAN: If you can say anything to Dennis Perkins, what would you say?
SHERIFF ARD: I don’t want to talk to Dennis Perkins right now, and I have nothing to say to him.
Sheriff Ard fired Perkins within hours of his arrest.
The 9News Investigators also requested information on his wife, Cynthia Perkins, a former school teacher. Livingston Parish Public Schools says it legally cannot release anything in her personnel file, but added she had no documented complaints in the past seven years at the various Livingston Parish schools in which she worked.