St. Bernard Parish President David Peralta has gone on a medical leave of absence to start treatment for skin cancer that is expected to require multiple surgeries, a parish spokeswoman said Thursday.
He is expected to be off the job for up to six weeks after the procedures, parish spokeswoman Lenor Duplessis said.
Peralta disclosed in March that he had been diagnosed with a form of non-melanoma skin cancer. The condition, known as basal cell carcinoma, was detected on his nose, back, an arm and a leg, he said at the time. It is not life-threatening.
The surgery to remove the cancerous tissue will be followed by plastic surgery and skin grafting, he said.
In Peralta’s absence, Ross Gonzales, the parish’s finance director, will be St. Bernard’s top-ranking official. 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 serve as “special volunteer assistant to the parish president,” though he will hold no official position.
This is Peralta’s second bout with skin cancer; the first was about seven years ago.
Basal cell carcinoma is the most common form of skin cancer in the United States, according to the National Institutes of Health. Most cases occur on skin that is regularly exposed to sunlight.
It’s been a tough couple of months for Peralta, who was indicted by a state grand jury in April on a charge of sexually battering his wife.
Peralta’s wife, Sharon Peralta, has said her husband raped her in October at their Meraux home.
Peralta has denied it, saying the couple instead engaged in “rough sex” on her 49th birthday, at her request.
And earlier this week, an Arabi resident began a recall effort against Peralta that would remove him from office before his term ends next year.
Peralta has said he plans to seek re-election next year.
Follow Richard Thompson on Twitter, @rthompsonMSY.