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Wednesday, April 17, 2019

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Galliano man gets 7 years for sexually abusing girl

Galliano man gets 7 years for sexually abusing girl

A 53-year-old Galliano man accused in 2016 of sexually abusing two girls 30 years ago was sentenced this week to seven years in prison.

Howard Peyton was charged on Oct. 7, 2016, with two counts of sexual battery, the Lafourche Parish Sheriff’s Office said. He was released from the parish jail that evening after posting a $100,000 bond.

Peyton pleaded guilty to only one of the charges in February because one of the victims did not want to go forward with the case, Assistant District Attorney Heather Hendrix said.

Both of the girls are family members of Peyton.

In a tearful impact statement, the victim described Peyton as a monster who made her childhood a nightmare.

“Every time I close my eyes I hear his voice,” the victim said. “I’m afraid of the dark. I deserve a piece of mind. I vowed to myself that I would never let this monster ruin another life like he ruined mine. I deserve justice. Help keep children safe by having one less monster on the streets.”

Peyton began sexually abusing the victim when she was just 5 years old, authorities said. She reported the abuse numerous times, but Peyton eluded justice for decades.

Peyton’s attorney, Carlton J. Cheramie of Cut Off, asked the court for a lesser sentence because his client had admitted to the charge and had no criminal record aside from a DWI 20 years ago. Peyton was also under the influence of drugs and alcohol during the time of the offenses, Cheramie said.

Although the sexual abuse occurred 30 years ago, this is not a case of late reporting on the victim’s part, Hendrix said.

“This is a case where the victim did everything right,” Hendrix said. “She did what parents and authority figures tell children to do when they’re touched inappropriately. She told. In the ’80s when she was 5 years old, she told several authority figures about the heinous acts perpetrated numerous times upon her and the other victim. She did not get justice, and that is not her fault.”

Although Peyton claimed he received psychiatric counseling, he continued to inflict sexual abuse on his victims over the years, Hendrix said.

“The defendant got counseling and was told he was cured, which is an impossible diagnosis,” Hendrix said. “The supposed cured defendant commits this sexual abuse upon the defendant again when she’s a teenager, and she told. Again, justice was not served. She told again and again but nothing was done. This is why we are here today. The state asks for a lengthy jail sentence because of the defendant’s vicious repeated attacks on this victim. A lesser sentence would deprecate the seriousness of the defendant’s crimes.”

Before he handed down the sentence, state District Judge John LeBlanc of Thibodaux told Peyton his actions represented a pattern of chronic behavior.

“Your claims of being cured don’t follow your actions because this abuse has happened numerous times over many years,” LeBlanc said. “Crimes of this nature require a sentence that doesn’t deprecate the seriousness of the crime. I don’t know what could have been more cruel to a child. This is beyond cruel.”

After the judge sentenced Peyton to seven years at hard labor, the defendant showed no emotion as a deputy placed him in handcuffs. He must also register as a sex offender for life.

“I could only wish he can go away for life, but unfortunately we had to go by the laws in the 1980s,” Hendrix said after the hearing. “I’m thrilled he’s going to be doing seven years and the judge saw the horrific nature of his crimes.”


-- Daily Comet Staff Writer Dan Copp can be reached at 857-2202 or at Follow him on Twitter@DanVCopp.