After WBRZ reports, watchdogs want higher authority to investigate child sex abuse cases in Livingston Parish
LIVINGSTON - On the heels of another shocking case involving child sex abuse that appears to have fallen through the cracks, watchdogs are demanding that a higher authority intervene.
Over the past five years, there have been several instances where Livingston Parish dropped the ball on child sex abuse cases.
The first to come to light involved disgraced deputy Dennis Perkins. He was arrested for raping a child and possessing child porn. He also ejaculated on sweets and his teacher wife served them to her class.
Before that news broke, a Baton Rouge police officer forewarned Sheriff Jason Ard that there were problems, but Ard conducted a verbal investigation and did not write anything down.
Perkins was convicted of rape and sent to prison this year, expected to spend the rest of his life there.
Two years ago, a case involving John Mack surfaced. Latoyia Porter, who is the child's guardian, said the child had been seeking help for a decade but DCFS, LPSO and others all failed her. Her cries fell on deaf ears until the NAACP got involved along with state lawmakers. John Mack was arrested, and is scheduled to go to trial next week.
Last year, John and Patricia Fore, a couple who once owned the now shuttered Tiki Tubing in Livingston Parish were arrested in separate sex crimes investigations. Sheriff Jason Ard at the time said that some of the allegations against the Fores were reported years earlier, admitting that deputies did not pursue the case "as diligently as it should have been."
"The sheriff's office is not interested in investigating sex offenders," Porter said Thursday. "Children are not important in Livingston Parish. That's sad to say that in the State of Louisiana and that can even be stated. Look at the pattern. This isn't a coincidence. This isn't one case it's repetitive."
Porter's comments come one day after the WBRZ Investigative Unit broke a third situation that occurred in 2018 that just came to light.
Two children alleged their deputy dad molested them. A doctor agreed after evaluating them and diagnosed them both with child sexual abuse. Despite that diagnosis, he was allowed to see the kids again and remains on the payroll for the Livingston Parish Sheriff's Office.
"No one ever tried to help," said Latricia Thornton, the children's mother. "They just looked the other way, because they wanted to keep their parish, their sweet parish's secrets quiet. There's too many secrets that go on at the Livingston Parish Sheriff's Office that no one wants anyone to know."
Porter was stunned after seeing the most recent story and said the lack of transparency cloaked behind all of this being a "juvenile matter" is not surprising.
"They use that as a way to not have any accountability to give statements or answers as to what's going on," Porter said. "Anytime you can have monsters like Denny Perkins, John Mack, and the individual right here in the middle of everything, they aren't hiding and they are right here in the open. At this point, something has to be done. I think we need some type of federal investigation."
The WBRZ Investigative Unit told Ard about the documents and accusations and asked to speak to him on camera. He turned down our request for an interview and instead issued the following response:
"'Our policy, in keeping with state law, prohibits me from providing information related to investigations involving juveniles. However, I can confirm that there is no current criminal investigation by our office, nor are there any criminal charges pending.' - Sheriff Ard."
WBRZ reached out to the Department of Children and Family Services for a response. We never heard back.
State Police issued the following statement amid the growing fallout.
In early May, 2023, the Louisiana State Police Special Investigations Unit received a tip in regards to a Livingston Parish Sheriff’s Deputy who was accused of committing sexual abuse against a minor(s).
LSP Investigators learned that a complaint relative to this case was submitted to the Livingston Parish Sheriff’s Office in 2018 and opened an inquiry into the case. Upon reviewing the case, LSP investigators found there was insufficient evidence to support criminal charges.
WBRZ asked if investigators interviewed the children. But, a spokesman was not able to answer that question saying the case is still "active."
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