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Livingston Parish Courthouse, seen Thursday, Oct. 24, 2019.

The Livingston Parish district attorney has recused himself from an ongoing child rape case, saying he wants to avoid the appearance of any possible conflicts of interest arising from the political connections of defendant John Mack.

District Attorney Scott Perrilloux said he submitted the recusal due to the "politically sensitive nature of the case," referencing claims from the Baton Rouge NAACP and others that justice could be compromised because of people in the Mack family who hold political positions: namely state Rep. Sherman Mack and his brother Livingston Parish councilmember Shane Mack, both nephews of John Mack who described a very distant relationship with their uncle. 

John Mack, 75, faces first-degree rape and sexual battery charges.

The NAACP has circulated a memo in recent weeks demanding a robust prosecution and accusing state officials and law enforcement agencies of slow-walking the investigation.

"We believe that from the very beginning, nobody was paying attention to this case because of these political connections," said Baton Rouge NAACP President Eugene Collins. "However, we also believe that Mr. Perrilloux's decision to recuse himself is simply a cop out."

Sherman Mack, a Republican from Albany and longtime attorney who narrowly missed a bid for House speaker last year, said any notions that he would advocate for his uncle were completely unfounded.

"I have not spoken to the man in at least a decade," he said. "He's pretty much estranged from our family. If he's guilty of these charges, then justice needs to prevail."

When Shane Mack first ran for parish council, John Mack supported an opposing candidate, the Mack brothers said.

"He had a big sign in his yard for the other guy," Shane Mack said. "We don't get along. I don't associate with him. You wouldn't even know he was my uncle, except we have the same last name."

Shane Mack said he was surprised Perrilloux cited possible political connections as his reason for the recusal because he believes the distant relationship between John Mack and his nephews is fairly common knowledge within the small world of Livingston Parish. 

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John Mack, 75, has been held without bond since a hearing last month, when a Livingston Parish judge found the charges serious enough to require his continued detention. Before his Livingston arrest, he was arrested a few weeks earlier in Jefferson Parish and booked on one count of misdemeanor sexual battery, a less serious charge.

His attorney for the Livingston case, Robby Gill, didn't respond to a request for comment.

Law enforcement officials have described an ongoing investigation into alleged child sex abuse spanning multiple jurisdictions. But details about the exact allegations remain scarce.

"This whole case is a crying shame," Shane Mack said. "If he's guilty, he needs to pay for these crimes."

During the October hearing, Sgt. Darnell McAlister with the Livingston Parish Sheriffs Office testified that the investigation was launched in 2019 after New Orleans police received reports of a possible sexual assault in Livingston Parish. She said John Mack denied the allegations then and the investigation stalled for lack of evidence.

It was reopened in 2021 after a witness came forward and presented a corroborating account, McAlister said.

Since Mack posted bond in Jefferson Parish, it appears that case has largely stalled while the Livingston prosecution proceeds.

Perrilloux, the Livingston district attorney, filed his notice of recusal Nov. 5.

"After reviewing the file … it is very apparent that the potential exists for witnesses to be called which would put the elected District Attorney in a position that could be perceived to be a conflict in the fair and impartial administration of justice," the document says.

The recusal means the case will land on the desk of Louisiana Attorney General Jeff Landry, who can appoint either a member of his staff or a different district attorney to handle the prosecution. His office did not respond to a recent request for comment.


Email Lea Skene at lskene@theadvocate.com.