GONZALES — Ascension Parish sheriff’s deputies along with federal and state prosecutors have opened a criminal investigation into allegations of impropriety raised in a recent lawsuit against the Sorrento police chief, the Ascension sheriff said Thursday.
The federal suit claimed Police Chief Earl Theriot Jr. supplied an already intoxicated woman vodka on Nov. 1 and had the handcuffed woman perform oral sex on him while in his office at town hall. The woman was detained at the Sorrento Police Department for four hours before Theriot released her and she spent part of that time handcuffed and bound with her own belt under his desk, the suit claims.
The suit accuses Theriot of violating the woman’s constitutional rights by allegedly committing assault, sexual assault, battery, sexual battery and forcible sexual battery against her.
“Please be advised that there will be no further release of information on this or any other ongoing investigation,” Sheriff Jeff Wiley said in a statement Thursday.
“I would hope that the general public would realize that there is paramount importance that we proceed at a pace that insures a thorough and objective process.”
The sheriff’s criminal investigation is being conducted in conjunction with the 23rd Judicial District Attorney’s Office in Ascension and U.S. Attorney’s office, the sheriff’s statement said.
Theriot has not be arrested nor has he been charged with a crime.
The woman’s attorney, Tregg Wilson, has said his client is an alcoholic and is in treatment. He declined comment Thursday on the investigation.
Wiley read the statement to reporters Thursday evening at the parish Courthouse Annex in Gonzales outside the Parish Council chambers after leaving the council meeting. He declined further comment.
District Attorney Ricky Babin could not reached by cellphone late Thursday but declined comment on the matter earlier this week.
Federal prosecutors are restricted about commenting even on the existence of a federal criminal probe.
“We are aware of the investigation,” said Walt Green, acting U.S. attorney in Baton Rouge, “and we’re gathering facts from the Ascension Parish Sheriff’s Office and Ricky Babin, the district attorney.”
The lawsuit was filed Jan. 17 in U.S. District Court in Baton Rouge at a time when Theriot was already under fire for patrolling in Sorrento without insurance. The mayor and four Town Council members have called for his resignation over the issue, though Theriot told them to “stick it.”
Theriot has not responded to the suit’s allegations and did not return a message left on his cellphone Thursday night.