Fact Check

Did a Louisiana Woman Feed School Kids Cupcakes Tainted with Bodily Fluids?

A disturbing child sexual abuse case hit the headlines once again in February 2022.

Published Feb 17, 2022

 (Getty Images/Stock photo)
Image Via Getty Images/Stock photo
In 2019, Cynthia Perkins gave her school students cupcakes deliberately contaminated with her husband's bodily fluids.
What's True

In February 2022, Cynthia Perkins pleaded guilty to several offenses, including mixing a harmful substance into a food or drink. But...

What's Undetermined

We have not yet obtained clarification of whether the "mingling harmful substances" offense to which Perkins has pleaded guilty involved serving her students cupcakes contaminated with bodily fluids, as separate civil lawsuits have alleged.

Editor's note: This article unavoidably contains some references to, and details of, child sexual abuse that some readers might find particularly upsetting. 

In February 2022, various news outlets reported some disturbing details from a child sexual abuse case involving a former husband and wife in Livingston, Louisiana. The U.K.'s Daily Star, for example, published a story with the headline "School teacher fed students cupcakes laced with her husband's sperm," adding that:

A former school teacher is now facing up to 41 years in prison after giving her students cupcakes laced with her ex-husband's sperm. Cynthia Perkins had originally claimed she was not guilty of the crime, but has now changed her plea to guilty. The woman was a teacher in Livingston, Louisiana, and also admitted to several other sex crimes, according to local news reports.

Although Perkins pleaded guilty to one count of "mingling harmful substances," the indictment against her did not include details of that offense. The specifics of the unpleasant "cupcake" allegations stemmed from several civil lawsuits brought against Perkins and her ex-husband by parents of students at the school where she taught, and to whom she allegedly served the contaminated cupcakes. Those civil complaints did contain disturbing details, but we could find no record of Perkins' having admitted those allegations in any civil lawsuit, and none of those cases had been adjudicated, as of February 2022. 

The "mingling harmful substances" offense to which Perkins admitted in February 2022 might well relate to the "cupcake" incidents described in civil lawsuits against her, in which case our rating would be "True." However, definitive confirmation of that was not yet possible, so we're issuing a rating of "Mixture," for now. If or when we obtain clarification on that point, we will update this fact check accordingly. 

How the Perkins Child Sexual Abuse Case Unfolded

In December 2019, Louisiana Attorney General Jeff Landry charged Dennis and Cynthia Perkins with more than 100 child sex offenses including rape, production of pornography involving juveniles, video voyeurism, and sexual battery of a child, as well as mingling harmful substances. In many instances, Perkins was cited as having assisted her then husband in his crimes, but on other counts, she was cited as the primary actor. Click on the link to read an excerpted version of that indictment.

Until the scandal broke, Perkins had been a teacher at Westside Junior High School in Walker, Louisiana, while her husband Dennis had been a Livingston parish sheriff's deputy. 

Before agreeing to plead guilty and testify against her former husband in exchange for a reduction in her sentence, Perkins had been charged with dozens of extremely serious child sex offenses. As part of her deal with prosecutors, she has pleaded guilty to three offenses, including second-degree rape of a child aged under 13, and producing child sexual abuse imagery involving a child aged under 13.

So in terms of criminal law, it is worth noting that the third charge of "mingling harmful substances" is not the most serious one facing Perkins, relatively speaking. However, for reasons of tabloid sensationalism, the "semen-laced cupcakes" allegation was the main focus of several news reports in February 2022. (As an aside, many of those reports inaccurately stated that Perkins had already been sentenced. She had not. Rather, her sentencing was scheduled for Feb. 18, several days after those reports were first published.)

The indictment against Perkins, amended in February 2022 in accordance with the plea agreement, stated that she was part of a conspiracy to commit "mingling of harmful substances," in that "she intentionally aided and abetted Dennis Wallace Perkins in mingling a harmful substance or matter with any food or drink with the intent that the same should be taken by any human being to his or her injury." Under Louisiana law, it carries a maximum penalty of up to two years in prison. 

The indictment did not specify whether the offense in question involved semen and cupcakes, but at the very least we know that it involved the mixing of some harmful substance and a food or drink, and that Perkins has admitted her part in it. 

Separately, since 2019 several parents of students at Westside Junior High School have filed civil lawsuits against Perkins and her husband, as well as the school district, because they had reason to believe their children had eaten the tainted cupcakes. For example, in one suit filed in December 2019, a mother claimed that:

On two separate occasions in November of 2018 and May of 2019, Cynthia Perkins served cupcakes to her students, including [the plaintiff's daughter], that she had prepared at home and brought to the class. On October 30, 2019, [the plaintiff] received a call from the Livingston Parish School Board wherein she was informed that her daughter...ingested cupcakes that were brought to school by Cynthia Perkins that were adulterated with human bodily fluids, including human semen that was supplied by defendant Dennis W. Perkins, and videoed by Cynthia Perkins. On October 31, 2019, [the plaintiff] met with the Louisiana Attorney General's office and was informed of the above again.

Staff at the 21st Judicial District court in Livingston told Snopes that neither Perkins nor her husband had made any response to the allegations made against them in those lawsuits, and none of the civil cases had been adjudicated, as of Feb. 16, 2022. 

Cynthia Perkins: Teacher Accused of SICK Act against Students Gets 41 Years in Jail. https://meaww.com/teacher-41-years-in-jail-disgusting-sex-crimes-sperm-laced-cakes-to-kids. Accessed 17 Feb. 2022.
Louisiana Laws - Louisiana State Legislature. https://www.legis.la.gov/legis/Law.aspx?d=78492. Accessed 17 Feb. 2022.
Murphy, Chris, and Adam Cailler. “School Teacher Fed Students Cupcakes Laced with Her Husband’s Sperm.” Dailystar.Co.Uk, 15 Feb. 2022, https://www.dailystar.co.uk/news/latest-news/school-teacher-fed-students-cupcakes-26233433.
“Teacher Laced Cupcakes with Husband’s SPERM & Fed Them to Her Students.” The Sun, 15 Feb. 2022, https://www.thesun.co.uk/news/17660175/cynthia-perkins-sentenced-husband-dennis-sperm-cupcakes/.
Who Is Cynthia Perkins? School Teacher Fed Students Cupcakes Seasoned With Sperm. 16 Feb. 2022, https://www.ibtimes.sg/who-cynthia-perkins-school-teacher-fed-students-cupcakes-laced-her-husbands-sperm-62790.

Dan Mac Guill is a former writer for Snopes.

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