Parish president indicted on sexual-battery charge
CHALMETTE, La. (AP) — The president of St. Bernard Parish was indicted by a grand jury Wednesday on a charge of sexual battery against his wife.
The case deals with an accusation by Sharon Peralta that David Peralta raped her in October, various news media organizations reported Wednesday.
The grand jury did not indict Peralta on a rape charge, The New Orleans Advocate reported. The less serious charge of sexual battery is still a felony and carries a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison, the newspaper noted.
Sharon Peralta testified for about 90 minutes before the grand jury Wednesday, but declined to comment as she left the courthouse, according to the reports, which said other witnesses also testified before the jury.
The Associated Press doesn't generally identify alleged victims of sexual assault. However, Sharon Peralta has spoken publicly about the case and her lawyer issued a public statement identifying her Wednesday.
David Peralta has denied the allegation. In an interview with The New Orleans Advocate in March, a portion of which the newspaper republished Wednesday, he said he and his wife engaged in "bondage" and the couple frequently acted out "fantasy rape" while having sex. "That's what she wanted. She asked for it," the newspaper quoted him as saying.
He said Sharon Peralta concocted the rape accusation out of spite, and that injuries recorded during a medical examination the day of the encounter were self-inflicted.
David Peralta was not present Wednesday, but his attorney monitored the process from outside the courtroom, according to the news reports. The couple are currently estranged.
Sharon Peralta's attorney, Vernon Thomas, said in a statement issued Wednesday, "Sharon Peralta has always told the truth. Dave Peralta has changed his story many times. For Mr. Peralta to say he raped his wife to fulfill her fantasy on her birthday is ludicrous. If he was not the parish president he would have been arrested the night of the rape."
Dave Peralta's attorney, Stephen London, said his client was "shocked" by the indictment. A hearing was scheduled for Thursday morning, at which time an arrest warrant against him was expected and bond likely would be set.
"I'm very disappointed," London said.