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Sexual Abuse Case Against Cody Man Known for Lauralynn Bike Project Moves Forward

A judge has decided there is “ample evidence” to move forward with a sexual abuse case against Richard M. Perkins, 59. The case will now proceed to an arraignment and to trial in Park County District Court.

Perkins was known in the Big Horn Basin for repairing and giving away thousands of bicycles to children in the area through the Lauralynn Bike Project.

Perkins is facing a felony count of first-degree abuse of a minor, which stems from an alleged incident that he had sexually abused a child who was under the age of 13.

On Friday, August 4, prosecutors presented testimony during a preliminary hearing in the Park County Circuit Court indicating that the case is based off the child’s account of the incident, and evidence gathered by Cody police that corroborates the allegations. Perkins would not speak with police when they addressed the allegations with him and then fled the state, utilizing strangers’ cell phones to contact people back in Wyoming.

Cody Police Detective, Rick Tillery said at the hearing, “It became very obvious… from the beginning that he was trying to conceal his location.”

On June 9, Perkins was arrested in Bandon, Oregon and has been held in custody since. His current bail is set at $250,000 at the Park County Detention Center.

According to Detective Tillery, the alleged crime occurred in mid-May, but the girl did not report the incident to her mother for a couple weeks. Once her mother found out about the alleged sexual assault, she made contact with the Cody police.

Cody police launched a “very thorough investigation”, according to Deputy Park County Attorney Jack Hatfield. The investigation included multiple interviews and search warrants.

Richard M. Perkins

Before fleeing to Oregon, Perkins spoke with Cody police officers in a non-custodial interview at the Cody Law Enforcement Center. When officers began to insinuate that Perkins had committed a crime, he cut the interview short.

When asked about the initial interview with Perkins, Detective Tillery said, “As we started to try to interview [him] about the criminal complaint, he got very upset.”

Detective Tillery continued, “He wanted to leave, and so we allowed him to leave.”

On May 26, police searched his residence, but Perkins was not there. When police attempted to make contact with him, his phone went straight to voicemail.

Perkins told his employer at the time that he was in Rock Springs, calling from different phone numbers. When Perkins’ employer would try to make contact with him, Perkins was unable to be reached.

“People would answer and say, ‘Yeah, that gentleman [Perkins] just approached me, asked to use my phone,’” said Detective Tillery accounting what the Perkins’ former employer said. “So it was obvious that his [Perkins’] phone was switched off and he was trying to use other means to communicate.”

Between then and when he was taken into custody in Oregon, Perkins made a stop at his home sometime around June 1. Perkins had also apparently set up a campsite on Cedar Mountain as well.

Police officers had left a copy of the search warrant at Perkins’ trailer. Detective Tillery said that Perkins wrote on the warrant a note leaving all of his possessions to a family member.

In an attempt to deflect the allegations, Perkins wrote on the note and in a later phone call, that the alleged victim had a boyfriend and that she may have been abused by someone else.

Hatfield said that the statements made by Perkins were part of “trying to throw law enforcement off and create doubt regarding his guilt in the case.”

Hatfield argued, “But there is no doubt”, recounting specific phone calls Perkins made to a family member while he was in custody in Coos County Jail in Oregon.

In one particular phone call, Perkins “indicated that he was … willing to do a plea bargain, so that he didn’t have to spend the maximum amount of time in the prison because of his age,” said Detective Tillery.

Travis Smith, Perkins’ court-appointed attorney, said Hatfield’s comments about Perkins alleged “consciousness of guilt” were a “red herring” when it came to the context of a preliminary hearing.

Prosecutors only need to show probable cause that the suspect committed the alleged crime in order to get the case past the preliminary hearing stage. Judge Joey Darrah found there was “ample evidence” to allow the case to move forward to District Court.

During the trial, prosecutors will have to “meet the burden of conviction” to convict Perkins beyond a reasonable doubt. Perkins is innocent until proven guilty.

Richard Perkins next to his Lauralynn Project pickup truck

Richard Perkins next to his Lauralynn Project pickup truck.

Prior to his arrest, the citizens of the Big Horn Basin probably know Perkins from his efforts with the Lauralynn Bike Project. His memorable blue, red and white pickup truck often parked at Albertson’s in Cody, Blairs in Powell, and at the Red Apple in Lovell, always full of bicycles. KULR8 even featured the Lauralynn Project on the Billings news in 2017.

If convicted of first-degree sexual abuse of a minor, Perkins faces a minimum sentence of 25 years in prison.

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