St. Bernard Parish President David Peralta surrendered to authorities in St. Tammany Parish on Friday, two days after he was indicted by a grand jury on a charge of stalking his ex-wife. He was released on a $35,000 bond.
Peralta had been expected to turn himself in on Monday.
The felony stalking charge filed against Peralta this week is in addition to a sexual battery charge handed up by a grand jury in April.
In that case, he is accused of raping Sharon Schaefer, his then-wife, on her 49th birthday last fall in the couple’s Meraux home. Peralta has said he engaged in “rough sex” with his wife on that occasion at her request, and he has pleaded not guilty to the pending charge.
Schaefer and Peralta divorced earlier this year, and the two were not supposed to have any contact with one another under the terms of a protective order. Schaefer has claimed that Peralta violated the order by sending her numerous emails.
In July, investigators with the state Attorney General’s Office — which is prosecuting the stalking case — took several computers, a cellphone and other materials from Peralta. A search warrant indicated they believed they had evidence of witness intimidation, obstruction of justice and malfeasance in office.
Although Peralta has resisted calls to resign throughout his legal travails, on Wednesday he appointed parish Finance Director Ross Gonzales as interim chief administrative officer, placing him first in the line of succession if Peralta were to step down. Gonzales temporarily assumed the role of the parish’s top-ranking official when Peralta recently underwent treatment for skin cancer.
Former state 4th Circuit Court of Appeal Judge David Gorbaty, who has largely filled the chief administrative officer’s role on a volunteer basis since December, will “remain in his capacity as my volunteer executive adviser,” Peralta said Wednesday in a letter to the Parish Council.