Livingston Parish prosecutors say Dennis and Cynthia Perkins displayed a pattern of child sexual abuse fantasies in the years leading up their October 2019 arrest, including sexual roleplay as children, hidden cameras in the home to record children bathing, Google searches of lewd acts involving children, and an enormous trove of digital pornography.
Dennis Perkins, a former SWAT leader at the Livingston Parish Sheriff’s Office, and Cynthia Perkins, a former Livingston Parish junior high teacher, face dozens of counts including first-degree rape, attempted rape, sexual battery of a child, video voyeurism and production of child pornography, among others.
In a hearing Friday, the Attorney General's Office introduced new details that investigators say shows motive and a desire to commit the crimes of which the two are accused, even if they are not direct evidence of them.
Among the newly-released evidence is a claim that Louisiana Bureau of Investigations agents found sleep-inducing drugs in the pair’s Denham Springs home before their arrest, as well as five terabytes of encrypted data uncovered among Dennis and Cynthia Perkins’ electronic devices.
For perspective, the Attorney General’s Office says one terabyte of data contains 1,000 gigabytes. An average high quality photo is approximately 3.5 megabytes, and an average smartphone has 64 gigabytes of data storage.
Cynthia Perkins' attorney, James Spokes, said Friday that his team argued some of the evidence presented Friday should not be presented at the trial, as they felt it improperly prejudiced jurors against his client.
The judge in the case will issue a ruling in the coming days about which pieces of evidence can and cannot be admitted. So jurors may not hear all of them, Spokes said.
“Some of the issues we won on and some we lost, but overall it was a good day for the case, though we have some challenges ahead,” Spokes said.
Dennis and Cynthia were arrested in October following a cybertip from the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children and an IP address traced to the couple’s home in Denham Springs, court documents say.
After an initial search, investigators continued uncovering evidence and their scope “broadened significantly,” to the point documents show it now involves multiple juveniles, at least two adult victims and a dog.
The evidence the state presented includes videos of the pair allegedly raping a child, obscenely filming uknowing adults and children, producing numerous articles of child pornography, and video of Dennis Perkins performing sex acts involving an animal.
Further, the state introduced video evidence of Cynthia and Dennis carrying out roleplay in which Cynthia would pretend to be a child and Dennis would refer to her as one of the victims’ names.
“This video evidences the blatant lack of mistake or accident that either defendant could have in the engaging of sexual contact with children,” the court documents read.
A note allegedly found in Cynthia Perkins’ cellphone from May 2019 explicitly outlines the sexual acts an adult male and female would engage in with a young girl. It then described in great detail violent sexual acts against the child, during which the victim “has tears streaming down her face.”
More digital evidence reportedly shows Dennis Perkins had photoshopped his genitals onto photographs of female, school-aged children engaging in everyday activities, like yawning or laughing, to appear as though Perkins was performing sex acts with them.
The court documents say the original pictures were taken by Cynthia Perkins and sent to her husband for editing. They do not identify the juveniles.
The state wrote that this evidence shows Dennis Perkins’ “obsession with digitally documenting his sexual fantasies, which furthers his motive or intent to produce child pornography.”
Additional videos allegedly show Perkins conducting a traffic stop and using a pin camera to film a female driver’s breasts and genitals.
Prosecutors on Friday consolidated the 150 indicted charges down to a combined 44 counts.
Prosecutor Matthew Derbes said Friday that, while that means both defendants will likely face fewer charges at trial, it does not change the volume of evidence against them or the seriousness of their sentences if convicted.
He said, for example, if a certain production of child pornography act may have been spread out among multiple charges with multiple photographs as evidence, now they would be streamlined into one charge to make it easier for a jury to understand.
"We're not walking away from the evidence or trying to reduce exposure to it, but it strictly consolidates the evidence," Derbes said. "The total number of charges will be lowered, but it will involve the same evidence."
Both Perkins' also face a series of civil lawsuits from parents of Livingston Parish students who say their children were harmed by ingesting baked good tainted with Dennis Perkins' bodily fluids that Cynthia had provided to her school students.
Those cases are ongoing in Livingston Parish court.
Cynthia Perkins had taught English Language Arts at Westside since 2016, but her tenure with Livingston Parish Public Schools dates back to 2009. She resigned the day of her arrest in October.
Dennis Perkins had been a deputy with the Livingston Parish Sheriff's Office since 2002, working his way up to his most recent position as the head of the SWAT team before he was terminated at the time of his arrest in October.
Cynthia and Dennis Perkins will be tried together in the criminal case, which is tentatively set for trial in mid-2021.