Sexual assault inquiry targets St. Bernard chief
Louisiana State Police said Monday they are investigating an allegation that St. Bernard Parish President David Peralta committed a sexual assault, and they have searched at least one location as part of their inquiry.
While details remain sparse, Peralta called the claim “baseless” and said it stems from a domestic problem.
“I am disappointed and embarrassed by the baseless allegations made against me,” he said in a statement released to several broadcast outlets.
“This is a sad and baffling domestic issue that should have never risen to this level. In short time, I am confident this will be resolved.”
Peralta did not elaborate further or respond to requests for additional comment.
The St. Bernard Parish Sheriff’s Office asked State Police on Sunday to look into the claim, Troop B spokeswoman Melissa Matey said.
“We are gathering all the facts, conducting interviews, and will turn over the results to the district attorney,” Matey said.
The Sheriff’s Office turned over the investigation to State Police immediately upon learning about the allegation, Sheriff James Pohlmann said through a spokesman. He declined further comment.
State Police investigators then executed a search warrant in the case. Matey said an initial report and information about the location that police searched were not being released Monday because of the ongoing investigation.
There is no timeline for when the investigation will be finished.
“I will continue to focus on my responsibility to this parish and will not be sidetracked by a personal disagreement,” Peralta said.
Peralta, a former New Orleans police sergeant and a major with the St. Bernard Sheriff’s Office, defeated former parish President Craig Taffaro in 2011.
He previously served as chief administrative officer for two years under former President Henry “Junior” Rodriguez.
Taffaro fired him in 2008.