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INVESTIGATIVE UNIT: Children allege LPSO deputy molested them; doctor agrees, but nothing was done

7 months 4 weeks 2 days ago Wednesday, July 05 2023 Jul 5, 2023 July 05, 2023 1:53 PM July 05, 2023 in News
Source: WBRZ

LIVINGSTON — At nearly the same time that the Livingston Parish Sheriff's Office was dealing with a sickening story involving disgraced deputy Dennis Perkins, another allegation surfaced about a different deputy.

WBRZ has made an editorial decision not to identify the deputy at this time because he shares the last name with the girls who alleged they were sexually abused.

Those claims are spelled out in medical records obtained by the WBRZ Investigative Unit this year. Those records show two children, ages 5 and 8, alleged that the deputy molested them. They were examined by a doctor at Children's Hospital in New Orleans and also interviewed by the Children's Advocacy Center. They were both diagnosed with "child sexual abuse."

Despite that medical diagnosis by Dr. Neha Mehta in New Orleans, who specializes in child sex abuse cases, the man the children allege did it remains on the job and actively employed by the Livingston Parish Sheriff's Office.

The WBRZ Investigative Unit interviewed the children's mother who said she reached out to the media because she had nowhere else to turn after being ignored by DCFS, LPSO and others.

"It was Easter Sunday," Latricia Thornton said. "That night, my two daughters were playing in the tub but were doing things that seemed more adult than child like. I asked if anyone ever touched her private parts. She said 'yes, daddy touches my tutu.' I said how did he do it, and I said I'd bring you a baby doll so you can show me how he did it. My oldest was 7 and she said 'oh, does he tickle it like this?' I said does he do it to you? She said 'yes, he does it to me.'"

Thornton said she brought the children to see doctors and were referred to Children's Hospital in New Orleans.

After a thorough evaluation, Dr. Mehta noted, "recommend that any visits with dad be supervised. Dad should have no role in personal body care, bathing, wiping, dressing etc."

As this was unfolding in New Orleans, nearly simultaneously, another more salacious story broke in Livingston involving another one of Sheriff Jason Ard's deputies. Dennis Perkins ultimately was convicted this year for sex crimes against children after he and his teacher wife tainted sweets with semen and she served them to her class. He also possessed child porn and admitted to raping a child.

"When the Dennis Perkins stuff came about in 2019, it made things — I guess — a little worse for Livingston," Thornton said. "They did not need to have another deputy that was being looked at for sexual abuse. So, the situation went away quietly. The judge went ahead and said she was going to return the kids back to him."

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 brought these concerns to the Louisiana Foundation Against Sexual Assault (LAFASA). Lawyer Sean Cassidy said the doctor's diagnosis from New Orleans should have been enough to proceed with a criminal investigation. He also says this is not surprising.

The children's mother remains exasperated.

"I do think he should be arrested," Thornton said. "I do think they should attempt to prosecute him with all the evidence instead of what they choose to nitpick with and say 'Oh, he passed a polygraph and a psych text.' No offense, but mental patients pass psych tests all the time, and they don't get admitted to hospitals."

Thornton now says both of her kids are dealing with mental anguish. 

"Livingston Parish is not going to give my children justice," Thornton said. "Whether it's the DA or the sheriff's office. The way it looks to me is that everyone is running in the same political circles. So, to me it's like the deputy did it. We will pretend that we don't see it and let him keep working for us."

The WBRZ Investigative Unit spoke to the alleged perpetrator by phone. He called the accusations "bulls***" and referred everything to his lawyer. After the lawyer said DCFS could not validate the complaint, WBRZ asked whether the agency had the authority to reject a medical diagnosis. He said it did not.

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