Peralta to stand trial May 26 in St. Tammany stalking case _lowres

Advocate photo by JOHN McCUSKER -- St. Bernard Parish President David Peralta.

St. Bernard Parish President Dave Peralta will stand trial May 26 for allegedly stalking his ex-wife, a judge said Wednesday.

Peralta was indicted by a St. Tammany Parish grand jury in September on a single count of felony stalking of his ex-wife, Sharon Schaefer, who accused him of harassing her through email and in online postings at Peralta has posted a $35,000 bond on that charge.

The couple had previously agreed not to contact each other during divorce proceedings.

Schaefer lived in Slidell when the alleged stalking occurred, which is why the case is being prosecuted in St. Tammany.

Peralta also was indicted in April on a sexual battery charge in St. Bernard Parish, stemming from an October 2013 incident in which Schaefer alleges that he handcuffed, beat and raped her in their Meraux home. Peralta maintains that the couple engaged in “rough sex” that day at her request, but Schaefer has denied that assertion, saying the couple wasn’t even on speaking terms at the time.

He pleaded not guilty and was released on a $20,000 bond.

The judge in the St. Bernard case has issued a gag order in that case, which is expected to go to trial in March.

On Wednesday, Judge Scott Gardner, of 22nd Judicial District Court in Covington, put the same restrictions on the St. Tammany case at the request of Peralta’s lawyer, Martin Regan.

Gardner ordered that no one from either side speak outside the courtroom about the case. He also agreed to seal the records in the case.

The judge issued his ruling after a 10-minute bench conference and brief oral arguments from Regan and prosecutors from the state Attorney General’s Office, which is handling the case.

Assistant Attorney General David Weilbaecher objected to the seal, saying the defense was required to present a “compelling reason” for the records to be kept from public view.

Regan countered that some of the evidence in the St. Tammany case is the same as evidence in the St. Bernard case. “The two cases overlap significantly,” he said.

Gardner agreed with Regan and issued the order, pending Regan’s filing of a written motion.

Advocate staff writer Richard Thompson contributed to this story. Follow Faimon A. Roberts III on Twitter @faimon.