BATON ROUGE, La. — After the First Circuit Court of Appeal threw out Melanie Curtin’s aggravated rape conviction and ruled a new trial, a Livingston Parish judge has now set a bond for her release.
Judge Brian Abel’s has set a $350,000 post conviction bond and Curtin is required to wear an ankle monitor. Judge Abels has also issued a protective order for the alleged victim in Curtin’s criminal case before her release.
The conviction and charge that put Melanie Curtin behind bars for the rest of her life was thrown out by the Louisiana First Circuit Court of Appeal on Oct. 5.
The ruling pointed out reasons why her conviction was tossed out:
- The trial court erred in admitting evidence under Louisiana Code of Evidence article 404B
- The trial court erred in excluding evidence under Louisiana Code of Evidence article 412
- The trial court erred in denying the defendant’s motion for new trial when it held that post-trial newly discovered evidence was inadmissable under Louisiana Code of Evidence article 412
For all those reasons, the court records say “We vacate the defendant’s convictions and sentences and remand this case for a new trial.”
But the prosecutors on this case, the Louisiana Attorney General’s Office responded to today’s ruling saying, “We are reviewing the ruling and anticipate appealing to the Louisiana Supreme Court.”
The ruling comes after Curtin requested a new trial from the Louisiana First Circuit Court of Appeal in February 2023.
Curtin was found guilty of an aggravated rape during a threesome between her, Dennis Perkins and another woman. A unanimous jury found Curtin guilty of raping the woman. Aggravated rape in Louisiana carries a mandatory life in prison sentence.
Since the trial and sentence however, Curtin, her attorneys John McLindon & Julie Tizzard have fought endlessly to get her a new trial. They presented evidence that a juror felt forced to change his plea from not guilty to guilty, but a Livingston Parish judge denied the motion. It’s why her attorneys took their plea before the First Circuit Court of Appeal.
Curtin’s story came to light after high-ranking Livingston Parish Sheriff’s Deputy Dennis Perkins was arrested alongside his ex-wife Cynthia Perkins in 2019, but Curtin was not associated with what the couple is now serving time for: second-degree rape, production of child pornography and mingling of harmful substances. Instead, her family tells UWK that she became “collateral damage.”
Instead, Curtin was arrested for the rape of an adult woman in 2014. Since then, she has been convicted of aggravated rape after a week-long trial in December 2021. Per Louisiana law, aggravated rape, formerly called first-degree rape, carries a mandatory life sentence without the benefit of parole. Out of the three people arrested, Curtin was the only one who went to trial. Both Dennis & Cynthia accepted plea deals.
Dennis & Cynthia Perkins
Cynthia pleaded guilty to three charges the day her trial was expected to begin and was sentenced to a total of 41 years.
Dennis pleaded guilty to 68 charges ahead of his trial as well and was sentenced to 100 years without the benefit of parole and must register as a sex offender. Dennis Perkins has been described as a “true monster” by his ex-wife’s, Cynthia, attorneys as well as several officials who went through the tens of thousands of pictures and videos to prepare for his trial.
The problem Curtin had, according to her attorney and family, was that she became “collateral damage” and got tied in with the Perkins’ arrests.
Curtin was said to have had a threesome, with all adults, at Dennis’ home in 2014. During trial, Curtin was painted as the woman who helped Perkins rape the victim while she had her head covered and was unconscious. However, there have been several questions raised since Curtin’s conviction of whether the victim in the threesome was actually a victim or if she was a consenting, conscious adult actively taking part in the threesome.
The victim in the case took the stand during Curtin’s trial and testified she had previously had a threesome, which some believed set the tone that this was not her first threesome. Text messages would prove that Perkins repeatedly texted Curtin on that November 2014 night to come over to watch a movie. Despite declining the offer several times, Curtin finally agreed on the fifth time he asked but added she would have to bring her son and even offered to pick up Perkins’ daughter on her way to his house.
While at Perkins’ home, Curtin, Perkins and a woman took part in a sexual act lasting about 17 minutes and it was all recorded due the several cameras Dennis Perkins had inside and outside his home, including in his bedroom.
That video became key during trial. The Louisiana Attorney General’s Office prosecuted the case with officials saying the victim was seen unconscious on the video with her head covered. However, Curtin’s attorney has always said the video also shows the victim taking part. Unfiltered with Kiran cannot authenticate what is on the video.
Since Curtin’s conviction, several things have been pointed out by the family repeatedly. It’s why they asked for a new trial twice but both requests were denied. The first denial was in March 2022. The second denial was in May 2022.
Defense attorneys pointed out the day after the sexual act in November 2014, Curtin had to go to the emergency room due to shortness of breath and abdominal pain. Her attorney and family believe Perkins drugged her drink at his home that night. There are allegedly text messages from the victim to Curtin the next day saying she did not feel well, also. The victim stated that the only drink she had was a sip of Curtin’s drink, which was the drink Perkins may have drugged.
When Perkins took his plea, he pleaded to a charge of second-degree rape, not first-degree rape. Louisiana law explains first-degree rape as one where two or more people take part. Curtin was convicted of first-degree rape because she was said to have raped the victim with the help of Dennis Perkins. But when it came to Perkins’ convictions, his first-degree rape of the victim in 2014 with Curtin was completely dropped. The second-degree rape charge was for a different woman’s rape. A second-degree rape sentence is between five and 40 years.