Judge Jeff Perilloux, left, and Judge Byron C. Williams, right.

 

Two New Orleans-area judges accused of sexual misconduct currently face a similar fate: they have been banned by the Louisiana Supreme Court, at least temporarily, from hearing cases.

One of the judges, Jeff Perilloux of St. John the Baptist Parish, stands accused in a criminal indictment of sexually assaulting three teenage girls, according to court documents and local news reports. The other, a criminal district judge in Orleans Parish named Byron C. Williams, is under investigation by a judicial commission based on complaints that he groped a court clerk and made inappropriate comments from the bench.

While the accusations against the two judges are not connected to each other and involve different types of alleged sexual misconduct, for both judges, the state Supreme Court issued recent “interim disqualification” rulings that barred the men from sitting on the bench while their respective cases are pending. The Louisiana high court handed down the temporary disqualification of Perilloux on June 29 and the temporary disqualification of Williams on July 2.

Both judges have denied the accusations. A lawyer representing Perilloux, David Courcelle, didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment nor did a lawyer representing Williams, Ernest Jones.

Of the two cases, Perilloux’s appears to involve more serious allegations, as indicated by the criminal charges he faces. State prosecutors have accused the judge of committing lewd and lascivious acts on two teenage girls in May and June of 2017, and of intentionally touching the breasts of another girl in December 2017. A grand jury handed down an indictment in late June, charging the judge with three felony counts of indecent behavior with a juvenile and one count of misdemeanor sexual battery.

Perilloux, according to local news outlets, is also under investigation for an alleged incident involving a 15-year-old girl—a friend of the judge’s daughter who accompanied Perilloux and his family on a trip to Destin, Florida, in July 2017. The girl told authorities that she ended up alone with Perilloux in his bedroom after approaching him to ask for a later curfew during the beach vacation. She said the judge then put his fingers into the bottom portion of her swimsuit.

The same girl also reported to authorities that the judge had, on at least two other occasions in Louisiana, touched her breasts while giving her a massage, according to a report in The New Orleans Advocate, which cites information from anonymous law enforcement officials. The judge is scheduled to appear in court as a defendant on July 19.

Williams, the other judge facing allegations of misconduct in Louisiana, is not the subject of a criminal case. Instead, the state’s Judiciary Commission is reportedly looking into allegations that he groped a female court clerk who was on the staff of another judge. Once that complaint was made, another woman stepped forward with claims that Williams made inappropriate remarks during a weekly Drug Court session.

The investigation into Williams, who is also a former federal and state prosecutor in Louisiana, has been taking place under a veil of confidentiality. That is standard practice for the Louisiana Judiciary Commission—unless the body eventually recommends to the state’s high court that a judge be disciplined or forced off the bench, according to the commission.

As of Tuesday, no formal recommendation from the commission had been made public.