VILLE PLATTE — The allegations were horrific, but apparently false, so Marla and Barry Giglio, a married couple and owners of the Pig Stand Restaurant, on Friday tried to clear their names and the reputation of their popular eatery.
The Giglios were among eight people accused of gang raping three prepubescent girls in a small trailer near Church Point last October.
The St. Landry Parish Grand Jury last week decided there was not enough evidence to indict six of the accused, including the Giglios — a rarity. An indictment is not a guilty sentence, but rather a move needed for formal charges to be filed so the prosecution can move forward with a trial.
Pieces of the story did not add up, attorneys said Friday after a news conference held at the Pig Stand. It was the first time the details of the allegation were discussed.
The girls, then 4, 5 and 7 years old, were in the custody of the Department of Children and Family Services at the time of the alleged incident and could not have been in the trailer, the Giglios' investigator Daniel Denoux, of New Orleans, said.
St. Landry Parish court-appointed defense attorney Ed Lopez was assigned the case. He said the date and location of the alleged incident did not mesh, the accused were not all acquainted and questioned whether eight adults and three children could have fit into a small trailer.
"All kinds of stuff was alleged to have happened in this itty, bitty bedroom with all these adults and three children," he said. "This was absolutely false. ... From the first minute — the first second — that I spoke to Mr. Giglio and his wife, I knew that these allegations were totally false. I knew it in my heart of hearts, and they were terrible, terrible allegations. I knew the Giglios were absolutely innocent of these things."
The Giglios will not pursue legal action in response to the apparently false allegations that led to their arrests, Barry Giglio, 57, said Friday. The two were incarcerated for 18 days, Marla Giglio, 51, said. The possibility of bond had been revoked, and it took that long for their adult children to find an attorney, have a judge set a bond and gather up the cash, she said.
Barry Giglio learned he was accused when he was awoken and arrested early one May morning by Louisiana State Police. Giglio later learned details of the accusation from Denoux, who showed him the probable cause affidavit drafted by police.
Giglio was appalled.
"He said, 'If we did this, they should give us the death penalty,'" Denoux said. One of the girls is the daughter of a former Pig Stand employee.
While the accusation hung over their heads, the Giglios decided to keep the restaurant open to assert their innocence, Barry Giglio said. His family ran the business and the employees were vigilant while and after the Giglios were incarcerated.
The Giglios called the news conference in an effort to repair their tarnished reputations.
"Our business has suffered severely because of the false allegations against us, but we're here today to clear my family name and my business," Barry Giglio said. "I hope we can be as strong in this community as we were before."
The Giglios will continue to live and work in Ville Platte and now Barry Giglio wants to "put all of these false allegations behind him so he and his family can move forward in being a good citizen of this wonderful town," attorney Chick Foret of New Orleans said.
"These false allegations have devastated his business. His business has dropped 75 percent as a result of these false allegations," Foret said. "The criminal justice system worked. Justice was served. These allegations were proven to be false."
In May, Lawrence Ricks Jr., 35, of Ventress; John Stelly, 57, and Alice Stelly, 55, both of Church Point; and Jennifer Stelly, 31, of Ville Platte were arrested on three counts of aggravated rape and three counts of aggravated incest each.
The Giglios, Marty Blood, 42, and Brandy Blood, 27, both of the Evangeline Parish town of St. Landry, all were arrested for aggravated rape.
The grand jury last week, however, said there was not enough evidence to prosecute in every arrest except John and Alice Stelly's aggravated incest counts.
They made "pretermit" rulings on those arrests, which is a determination that the evidence was not sufficient to warrant continuing prosecution nor does it stop future prosecution, but is a formal determination to not file charges at the present time.
"Any case can be investigated later. We never make any public pronouncement if any particular matter is going to be investigated or won't be investigated," First Assistant District Attorney Frank Trosclair has said.
The arrests were the result of a joint investigation by Louisiana State Police and the Department of Children and Family Services.