LIVINGSTON — The sex-crimes trial of a former Livingston Parish teacher who faces charges along with her ex-husband, a former sheriff's deputy, was delayed Thursday and might not occur until early next year.
Cynthia and Dennis Perkins had initially been set to be tried together beginning Monday, but their cases were severed last month and now each one has won a delay.
District Judge Ericka Sledge did not set a new trial date, but Cynthia Perkins' lawyer, James Spokes, said it is possible that it could be delayed until late this year or early in 2022.
The attorney general's office, which is prosecuting the case, says the couple acted together to commit several criminal acts against at least two adults, to children and a dog.
The delay granted by an appeals court Wednesday in Dennis Perkins' case means the ex-deputy will likely wait until early 2022 to begin his trial, Jarrett Ambeau, Dennis Perkins' defense lawyer, told The Advocate on Wednesday.
The couple was arrested in October 2019 and have awaited trial from jail since then.
Following the delay of Dennis Perkins' trial, the attorney general's office moved to begin Cynthia Perkins' trial on Monday in her ex-husband's place. But Sledge said the change in the anticipated trial order put Cynthia Perkins in a position where she may not have enough time to prepare her defense.
Assistant Attorney General Christopher Walters argued against Spokes' motion for the prosecution, calling the delay unnecessary given the year that has passed since the trial date was first set.
"We would assert that these defendants have an obligation to the state, the community and the victims to be prepared for trial when it was set," Walters said.
During his arguments for delaying Cynthia Perkins' trial, Spokes also gave some clues about her anticipated defense and and unveiled more accusations of possible wrongdoing by Dennis Perkins as a member of the Livingston Parish Sheriff's Office narcotics division.
Files on Dennis Perkins' hard drive contain photos of sexual acts with "over 100" adults and screenshots of their personal information "that appear" to have been taken from the sheriff's office database, Spokes said. Some of those adults, who Spokes declined to name to protect their privacy, have illegal drug charges, indicating Dennis Perkins used his position to "coerce" the women into having sex with him, he said.
"We feel like this closely aligns to our defense in that Cynthia Perkins was forced, intimidated and coerced based on his position of authority into committing things against her will and doing things that she wouldn't have done otherwise," Spokes told reporters after the hearing.
Cynthia Perkins may also face one fewer charge when her trial finally begins, Spokes said.
During the hearing, Spokes indicated that he and the attorney general's office have been in talks to sever the first-degree rape charge from Cynthia Perkins that she and Dennis Perkins both face. The talks began after the recent disclosure of evidence related to that charge favorable to Cynthia Perkins, Spokes said.
"Based on that information that was just disclosed to us last week, they're deciding to sever those cases," Spokes said. "We feel as though they should be dismissed and she should have never been charged with this in the first place."
The attorney general's office did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the possibility of that severance.