Cynthia Thompson Perkins (left) and Dennis W. Perkins (right)

Cynthia Thompson Perkins (left) and Dennis W. Perkins (right)

Editor's note: This story includes descriptions of sexual abuse of children.

Prosecutors say a former Livingston Parish sheriff’s deputy and his ex-school teacher wife worked hand-in-hand while committing a series of crimes that included sexually abusing children. Now that their trial date is near, they’ve turned on each other: she has secured a divorce, and he fears what she might say in front of a jury.

Dennis Perkins, 45, and his now ex-wife Cynthia Perkins, 36, face 150 felony charges alleging rape, child pornography, sexual battery of a child, video voyeurism and tainting pastries that children later ate at school.

They sat next to each other at the defense table in a video feed piped into a Livingston Parish courtroom via Zoom on Friday, but their seating arrangement contrasted sharply with their wishes to be apart.

“We believe she is going to point the finger at Mr. Perkins,” said Jarrett Ambeau, the defense lawyer for Dennis Perkins.

Ambeau also disclosed that, facing possible testimony from his ex-wife and co-defendant, Dennis Perkins would consider a plea bargain with the Louisiana Attorney General’s Office, which is prosecuting the case. Such a deal would “spare all of us” from the graphic testimony a trial would require, Ambeau said.

Dennis Perkins has not officially requested any plea deal and the prosecution has not offered him one, said Emily Fuson, a spokeswoman with the Louisiana Attorney General’s Office.

Ambeau said his client “may be thinking about taking some responsibility here.” The AG’s office wouldn’t comment on what justice might look like if a deal were to happen.

Dennis Perkins asked last month to stand trial separately from his ex-wife. His hope to strike a plea deal arose at the Friday court hearing in Livingston, which focused on whether the couple’s trials should be separated.

A five-year investigation culminated with the Perkins’ 2019 arrest, plus additional accusations against another woman. The victims include two children, two adults and a dog.

Cynthia Perkins, a former English teacher at Westside Junior High School in Walker, had been married to Dennis Perkins for a little over a year before they were charged. She subsequently filed for divorce claiming she was afraid of him.

A judge made the couple’s divorce final March 23 and gave Cynthia Perkins permission to use her maiden name, Thompson. She is still listed as Cynthia Perkins in court documents.

Because the couple was indicted in the same document, their criminal cases, by default, would proceed through the court system together.

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Prosecutors said last summer that evidence seized from Dennis Perkins' computer and a hard drive included more than 60 images that showed sexual contact with a child under the age of 13. Some of the photos appeared to have been taken with hidden cameras, authorities said.

Investigators also found photos of a man, believed to be Dennis Perkins, contaminating petit fours pastries with a bodily fluid. They also found photos of juveniles at school eating petit fours.

In all, the couple faces a combined 150 felony charges, including first-degree rape, production of child pornography, sexual battery of a child, video voyeurism and mingling harmful substances.

A ruling on the request to separate the couple’s case is expected sometime next week, District Judge Erika Sledge said.

Prosecutors from the Attorney General’s Office contended Friday that the couple should be tried together.

The defense faces a greater burden of proof in arguing the trial should be severed than in a typical case, prosecutors argued, because of the extreme trauma endured by the Perkins’ alleged victims. The victims would have to detail the allegations twice if the trials are separated, prosecutors said.

Finding separate juries for the two defendants could prove difficult, too, Assistant Attorney General Christopher Walters told Sledge. The case has attracted local and statewide attention.

A judge said previously that prosecutors could introduce some evidence pertaining only to Cynthia Perkins, with other evidence presented only against Dennis Perkins. But a “substantial” amount of the prosecution’s evidence will be used against both defendants, Walters said Friday.

As Dennis Perkins considers striking a plea deal, his defense filed a motion to delay the trial’s July 12 start date. A hearing on that motion will be held June 25, Sledge said.

Prosecutor Barry Milligan, of the Attorney General’s Office, argued against any delays to the start of the fast-approaching trial.

“We are ready to go to trial,” Milligan told the judge.