Melanie Curtin, 43, was sentenced to life in prison today by Judge Brian Abels. She was found guilty by a unanimous jury on Dec. 3, 2021 after a week-long trial of aggravated rape (formerly known as first degree rape) and video voyeurism.
For the aggravated rape charge, Judge Abels sentenced Curtin to life without the benefit of parole. For video voyeurism, she was sentenced to five years of hard labor, also without the benefit of parole, and to run concurrently to the life sentence.
It goes back to an incident on Nov. 8th, 2014 where Curtin was accused of raping an adult woman with the help of Dennis Perkins.
Although Curtin’s arrest came around the same time as Denny & Cynthia Perkins’ arrests, her case had nothing to do with the Perkins or any allegations involving children. Her charge was for one specific incident on Nov. 8, 2014 with an adult woman and Dennis Perkins.
One key piece of evidence was a 17-minute video that is now sealed, but the jury did watch it to come to a verdict.
Curtin has always maintained she cannot recall that night as she was drugged by Perkins, even having gone to the hospital that day.
John McLindon, Curtin’s lawyer, said they will be appealing the verdict as well as the sentencing. Along with victims’ impact statements today, McLindon had also filed a ‘Dorthey Motion.’ That is when the defendant allegedly falls victim to the legislation. In this particular case, McLindon argued when the law was put on the books in Louisiana, aggravated rape was made more so for a gang rape.
“I don’t think the legislature ever planned for drinks, drugs, a couple and another woman. They never anticipated this. Maybe the statute needs to be amended,” said McLindon.
The Dorthey Motion gives the judge the right to change the sentence despite the jury’s verdict and what the law requires, a mandatory life in prison sentence.
In the end however, Judge Abels said “I do not think this was a rare case. There was a video. I will not deviate from the mandatory statute.”
In court on March 21, 2022, Curtin’s family members spoke up on her behalf during victims’ impact statements. Curtin also spoke up for the very first time since the incident. She did not testify during her own trial. Prior to her, three of her sisters, her mother, friend and boyfriend all read statements. One of her sisters also read statements from both of Curtin’s boys.
The victim in the case gave her statement to the Attorney General’s Office who read it out loud.
“What was done to me, has changed me. I have had days I could not get out of bed. I avoided the news and social media to prevent any anxiety and panic attacks. The level of betrayal is hard to comprehend. To see my body and what you did is not okay. I don’t think I will ever want to have sex again,” said the victim, whose name will not be released.
“Being here facing a life sentence has felt like preparing for my own death,” said Curtin.
“It’s surfaced thoughts, feelings and emotions that are unspeakable. Today March 21, 2022, marks the hardest days I have ever had to prepare for. I never in my lifetime could’ve imagined I would be in a situation like this today or experience what I’ve lived through up to this very moment. I am so sorry and apologize from the bottom of my heart to all of those who worked on this case.
I could have never imagined that upon my return to the New Orleans port February 1, my life was changed forever, and a nightmare would begin. I would have a dozen officers from three agencies banging on the door before the sun even came up. Being abruptly worked, searched, and handcuffed I was in sheer shock and thought this had to be a nightmare I just need to wake up from. I had no idea what was going on or why. I thought surely there was a mistake. They have the wrong person? I was so lost, confused, scared, shaking and terrified. When I was asked if I would like to speak, I was speechless. I was told I was a fugitive and then would be transported to the parish the charges were in. I couldn’t make sense of it. My thoughts were a fugitive is someone on the run? I’m not running from anyone or anything? Still in complete shock and speechless thinking this must be a huge mistake. Once I arrived to Livingston Parrish jail, and booked there, I was told the charges I had were first-degree rape and video voyeurism. I was speechless and felt like I had left my body in absolute shock. I didn’t understand? This can’t be? Something isn’t adding up or making sense I would never hurt or harm or violate anyone.
The word rape was not something I could comprehend; video voyeurism didn’t make sense either. I was told a video was found and it involved Denny Perkins, (the victim) and myself. Then to try and understand that it was the victim charging me for this act? I was shocked, terrified, mortified that there was such an act I was being accused of? It was unimaginable and I couldn’t make sense of it.
It took my family five days to get me bonded out. I didn’t realize it was all over the news media and how I was being tied to other horrific crimes. I was told there were death threats on me, and it was very dangerous for me to bond out. I had to go to an undisclosed location for my safety. I couldn’t leave the state of Louisiana. Even the bail bondsman went into hiding because of death threats for bonding me out.
All of this was overwhelming to even comprehend. It all happened so fast, and I couldn’t make sense of it. I am so sorry and extremely remorseful to the families, to everyone that this has affected. After searching the date my sister found that was the date LSU played Alabama and asked what I did that night? Since this event had occurred November 8, 2014, and it was 2020, almost 6 years later. It took a lot of thinking to figure out what I was doing that long ago. As most could agree we often sometimes struggle to remember a day or a week prior when we had such crazy busy lives and schedules. I remember years back watching the game at a friend’s house with my husband, (my two boys) and I had started to feel bad. I thought it could’ve been an allergic reaction to something but that seemed odd with the symptoms I had.
When leaving to head home, Jason (husband) and I decided to go to the ER because I was very concerned with my breathing and condition. Since I couldn’t remember when this occurred, I called and requested my medical records to see when that happened. When the records came in it was dated November 8, 2014, that night.
The amount of shock, trauma, and overwhelming restrictions for all of us was unimaginable and unbelievable. Somewhere in between all the unbelievable things happening, I did have a chance to watch the event on video. Words cannot describe the feelings that surfaced. There’s no way that could’ve happened? How could that be? How could that be me when I have no memory. It was heart wrenching to think how something like that could’ve happened and I didn’t know.
I wouldn’t know what I look like or act under the influence. I have never even smoked a cigarette and I’m 43 years old. Never even tried. I’m not perfect. And I have made mistakes and bad decisions. I didn’t have an affair per say with Denny. There were a couple of isolated incidents about 6 months to a year prior to the date in question. When I learned he was married, I did not have any other relations with Denny. I am remorseful that this has happened, and I made the mistake of believing and trusting Denny Perkins. I made a bad choice to go over to their house that night almost 8 years ago.
I regret that I didn’t testify and use the opportunity to tell my story. I have trouble finding my voice. I was also advised against testifying.
Today, I ask, Judge, Your Honor, The Court, I humbly ask for your forgiveness.
Judge, I want to be a mother to my boys and continue being in their lives every day. To enjoy and share all of the memorable life events. My boys lost their father, please don’t take me away from them. My prayer is to have a fresh new start. I’ve prayed for so long to have a godly, loving, healthy, respectful atmosphere to teach the boy and set a great example of what a true unconditional loving relationship looks like.
Judge, please have mercy and grace on me.”
Three of Curtin’s four sisters spoke up. They all described Curtin living in an abusive relationship with her ex-husband and added that’s when she met Dennis Perkins, who allegedly took advantage of Curtin when she was at a very low point in her life.
“I’ve sat back and asked myself a million times how did this happen, how did she get here? Melanie is the most loving, caring, giving and selfless person I know. She always puts everyone ahead of herself. She always saw the good in every person and situation. This was her blind spot. We all have them. Melanie’s blind spot is she was too trusting and as we used to say when we were younger, gullible. Being trusting and seeing the good in a person isn’t always a bad thing. Until now. Melanie’s blind spot of not being able to see who people truly are is what brought us here today. She put her trust in someone who had nothing but bad, perverted
intentions. She sought out help by a trusted law official in the community to help her get out of the abusive and toxic home environment she and her boys were stuck in with her husband at the time,” said Curtin’s sister.
“My whole life, my mom has always been there for me. My mom has always tried to give me everything I have wanted, not just needed. She has been my safe person to be with, someone that I always knew I could go to. She is
extremely caring to everyone, she would do anything for anyone. She is always positive. Without her in my life I will miss her being a part of my college baseball career, meeting a girlfriend, getting married, having kids, all of the holidays- those have been the most fun for her and us together.
Her job is to be my mom and it hurts that she has not been able to be that through all of this. She has already had to miss things that are important to me and I wanted her to be part of. I want her to be there at my graduation this May.
I want her out, I want her to be a part of my life, I want this nightmare to be over so we can have a stable life together,” said one of her sons.
“As her mother, I do know that she was always too trusting as a child, teenager, and adult. She has always seen the good in people, always giving them the benefit of the doubt, even to a fault sometimes. I know she would never do any of the things that she is being charged with to anyone, a stranger and especially a friend. I am prayerfully asking you to consider my letter and letters of others as you make your decision. The boys lost their father last year and they need their mother. Praying she can be there for her boys and her family,” said Curtin’s mother.
“If someone told me that one day I would be pleading for mercy on behalf of someone I know and love who will be facing a life sentence without parole, I would immediately assume my loved one must have committed murder or done something heinous to someone else. I would have to assume that someone else’s life must have been cut short or terribly and irreparably damaged by my loved one. Never in a million years would I have thought someone I know and love would be facing a life sentence, in prison, for engaging – unwittingly – in an act that neither of the women were even aware of. Denny Perkins may as well have killed Melanie that night. Death would have been better than a life sentence in prison without even the possibility of parole, forever without the comfort of her loved ones, her children, her sisters, parents, her friends, or me. I beg your honor for mercy for Melanie. I beg you not to sentence her to death by incarceration for 17 minutes of drug-induced, videoed sex.
On January 26th, 2022 an Assumption Parish man was sentenced to 23 years for holding a woman at gunpoint and brutally raping her. How can we say we trust a system that is so obviously unfair – where there are murderers, abusers, and child molesters who walk free or who are sentenced to less than life?
Even Cynthia was sentenced to less than life and what she did included abuse of children, was voluntarily, with full awareness and cooperation. There are literally thousands of cases where criminals received less time for absolutely heinous crimes,” said Curtin’s boyfriend.