Pigeon granted bail in child sexual assault case
Political operative Steve Pigeon, who faces a half dozen charges in a case alleging forced sexual contact of a minor in 2016, was granted bail Monday morning by a State Supreme Court judge.
After hearing arguments by prosecuting and defending lawyers, Justice William Boller granted bail, a choice of $250,000 cash, $500,000 bond or $750,000 partially-secured bond.
“We feel it was a fair determination. We appreciate the consideration we got from Justice Boller,” said attorney Paul Cambria, who was one of two lawyers representing Pigeon in court Monday. “Steve vehemently denies these charges. We've indicated that, and we're going to move forward to our job and let the courts make the decision.”
Pigeon is charged with two counts of Predatory Sexual Assault Against a Child, one count of First Degree Rape, one count of Criminal Sexual Act in the First Degree, one count of First Degree Sexual Abuse, and one count of Endangering the Welfare of a Child stemming from an alleged encounter that, according to prosecutors, took place on an evening in late 2016 between Thanksgiving and Christmas.
He surrendered to authorities on the morning of Dec. 2 and, following arraignment, was ordered held without bail at that time.
Erie County Assistant District Attorney Patrick Swanson, in arguing to keep Pigeon behind bars, spoke of the nature of the charges, and of alleged attempts to contact a relative of the victim beginning with a text message on July 31 of this year.
“The defendant initiated a text to one of the victim's family members, who the defendant is close with, to inquire about what was going on and why no one was returning calls,” Swanson said in court. “And he stated specifically, and I quote, ‘Why won't you call? I am ready to do something drastic. And you have to talk to me.’ That same day, and this was during the investigation into this matter, Your Honor, the defendant showed up at the victim's residence, uninvited and unannounced, where the defendant was banging on the front door, desiring to speak to the victim and the victim's mother.”
Swanson continued that a third attempt to establish contact had been made on Aug. 2, this time involving two of Pigeon’s associates.
Cambria, who identified the victim’s mother as one of Pigeon’s relatives, countered that Pigeon had sent the text message in question to multiple people.
Also as part of his argument to establish bail, Cambria told the judge Pigeon does not pose a flight risk. He noted that Pigeon has cooperated in state and federal cases against him, for which he was freed on his own recognizance, and argued that fleeing from these charges would only jeopardize his standing in those cases. He awaits sentencing later this month in a separate case, following a guilty plea to conspiring to arrange an illegal campaign contribution.
“We knew about these charges last week. And nevertheless, he appeared. He turned himself in voluntarily for processing,” Cambria said. “And so, clearly, he has demonstrated a very long history, if you will, of responding to the court.”
“The offenses that he's pled to call into question is trustworthiness. They are crimes of dishonesty. And he has cooperated in those matters as outlined by Mr. Cambria for a more lenient sentence. In other words, he had something to gain to stay in contact with authorities and abide by his release conditions,” Swanson countered. “In this matter, there are no such conditions, there is no such agreement. What we have in front of the court today are very serious matters.”
Justice Boller, recognizing that none of the three attempts to establish contact with the victim’s family had resulted in a connection, stated that Pigeon has consented to the order of protection issued last week.
Attorneys will return on the morning of Dec. 20 to take on the discovery phase of the case, the formal exchange of trial-related information between the parties.