LIVINGSTON -- Sheriff Jason Ard once considered Dennis Perkins a friend.
He now considers him a criminal charged with committing “a monstrous act.”
That was the message Ard delivered to a room of reporters during a press conference Wednesday morning, held minutes after Perkins made his first court appearance for a slew of crimes against children.
Perkins, 44, faces 60 counts of production of pornography involving a juvenile under the age of 13, two counts of first-degree rape, three counts of possession of pornography involving a juvenile under the age of 13, two counts of video voyeurism, two counts of obscenity, and one count of obstruction of justice.
He was arrested with his wife, Cynthia Perkins, a former Livingston Parish school teacher, as the result of a criminal probe led by the Louisiana Attorney General’s Office with assistance from the Louisiana Bureau of Investigation (LBI), Louisiana State Police, and Livingston Parish Sheriff’s Office.
Perkins, of Denham Springs, became a deputy with the Livingston Parish Sheriff’s Office in 2002 and most recently served as lieutenant of the SWAT team before his termination, which came after Ard was presented evidence from the Attorney General’s investigation.
Ard fired Perkins under the “standard of conduct” policy, saying he saw enough “with my own eyes” to know Perkins “needed to be terminated immediately and put in jail.”
“This guy was a friend, and right now, he is a criminal,” Ard said. “I am ashamed of what he did, and he should be, too.
“This is a monstrous act.”
Ard said his reasoning for holding the press conference was to address rumors that have been “floating around on social media” since Perkins’ arrest. He reiterated that this is the Attorney General’s investigation and that he could not comment on the case so as not to “jeopardize the justice for these victims.”
Most of the presser centered around a complaint from a Baton Rouge police officer in 2014, when the officer approached Ard about “some inappropriate activity” involving the officer’s wife, his stepdaughter, and Perkins.
After meeting the police officer, Ard told reporters he questioned Perkins about the accusations, which Perkins denied. Ard later said a third party made Louisiana State Police (LSP) aware of the alleged incident but that he and LSP agreed at the time there was nothing criminal, “so there was no formal investigation done.”
“There was nothing in there that was criminal or reason to arrest him,” Ard told reporters. “I would’ve loved to have put Dennis Perkins in jail a long time ago if anyone would have known.”
When asked if he “turned a blind eye” to complaints about Perkins, Ard said that was “absolutely not” the case, saying he has arrested “more than my share” of law enforcement professionals over his 28-year career.
“I’ve never turned a blind eye,” Ard said.
During the 20-minute session, Ard also addressed criticism he’s received for calling Perkins “a friend and family member” in the statement his office released the day Perkins was put behind bars.
The sheriff said he has a relationship with all of his deputies and considers everyone who works for him “a friend” and an “LPSO family member” until they prove otherwise. He also said he sent “my guys” with the Attorney General’s office to north Louisiana “to make sure we put him in handcuffs.”
“[Perkins] betrayed us,” Ard said. “He is a criminal. He did criminal acts… [and] this is a time of betrayal to my office. This was someone we had high respect for, high regard for, or he wouldn’t have been where he was at. He was a lieutenant in my office. He was someone people in the community trusted.”
“It is a sad day when you do that because when you do that, you’re putting someone in jail that you uphold to a high standard, a very high standard. And when you get betrayed by that person, it hurts. And this guy betrayed us. He’s not supposed to do these kind of things. He’s supposed to be trusted in our community. And now, he has betrayed us.”
Ard said he has wondered how something like this could have happened in his department, a question he’s also heard many of his deputies ask. Documents released Wednesday show there was no disciplinary history or complaints in Perkins' personnel file.
“It’s very hurtful to us… [and] I don’t know how we didn’t know,” he said. “Again, if we would’ve had any indication at all that this guy was gonna do this type of crime, he would’ve been dealt with. If this report would’ve came through, I’m very confident what I would’ve did with this investigation.”
On Wednesday, Perkins agreed to be held without bond as his defense prepares its case. As part of the postponement, Perkins signed a protective order that forbids him from contacting anyone associated with the case.
Perkins is being represented by high-profile defense attorney J. David Bourland, who denied all allegations against his client and called him “an innocent man.” His next court appearance will be 1 p.m. on Dec. 19 in front of Judge Robert Morrison.