Pigeon charged, held in alleged sexual assault of a minor
Longtime political operative G. Steven Pigeon, whose many past roles includes Erie County Democratic Committee Chairman, was formally charged Thursday morning with six counts related to an alleged incident five years ago involving a girl, according to prosecutors, was younger than 11 years old at the time.
“These allegations stem from one evening,” said Erie County District Attorney John Flynn, who says the incident occurred at some time between Thanksgiving and Christmas of 2016. “There were actually two separate events that occurred this evening, allegedly, that resulted in these charges.”
Pigeon is charged with two counts of Predatory Sexual Assault Against a Child (Class A-II felonies), one count of First Degree Rape (Class B felony), one count of Criminal Sexual Act in the First Degree (Class B felony), one count of First Degree Sexual Abuse (Class D felony), and one count of Endangering the Welfare of a Child (Class A misdemeanor).
Prosecutors say the victim was known to the defendant. While Flynn would not verify the location of the incident, it was suggested in court the alleged crime happened at a residence in Hamburg.
Pigeon surrendered to New York State Police in Clarence Thursday morning. He appeared before State Supreme Court Justice Christopher Burns later that morning, wearing an orange jumpsuit. His attorney, Justin Ginter, entered a plea of not guilty on Pigeon’s behalf. Pigeon was ordered held without bail. Ginter did not comment on his client’s case as he left the courtroom.
A hearing is scheduled for Monday, December 6 before Justice William Boller. It is expected motions to set a bail will be heard at that time.
If convicted of all counts, Pigeon faces a maximum of 25 years to life in prison.
In addition, an order of protection for the victim and her family was issued by Justice Burns. Prosecutors allege that Pigeon, suspecting something was going on earlier this year, attempted to contact the family to acquire information, first through a text message, next by a personal visit, and third by a visit by two of his associates.
The DA also dismissed claims by the defendant in a published article late Wednesday that he was perhaps being set up by someone with a grudge.
“The information that has been put out there now also needs to be corrected, especially the information that allegedly came out of his mouth, which is that this must be somehow related to child pornography or something on my computer or something on my phone or some guy in the FBI wants to, you know, get back at me for something. I can tell you that all of that is utter nonsense,” Flynn said. “I can tell you that this case right here has absolutely nothing to do with any of his previous charges. It has nothing to do with anything the FBI was looking at. It has nothing to do with anything the Attorney General was looking at it, quite frankly.”
Flynn explained that this case started during the summer when an attorney representing the victim’s family came forward to the District Attorney’s Office, which later turned to New York State Police.
Pigeon is already awaiting sentencing in federal court for charges including conspiring to arrange an illegal campaign contribution. He pleaded guilty in that case three years ago but sentencing was delayed numerous times. Pigeon is scheduled to be sentenced in that case December 14.
His political career spans back to his teen years, beginning with work on James Griffin’s Buffalo mayoral campaign. He was elected to the Erie County Legislature in 1987, and later became chair of the Erie County Democratic Committee, a role he held from 1996 to 2002.
Flynn, during his news conference, was asked about potential conflicts of interest, given Pigeon’s experience as a campaign fundraiser. The DA told reporters he had not spoken to Pigeon over the past six years, nor did Pigeon work on his 2016 campaign.