In a court appearance Wednesday, even more details were revealed in the child porn case against Enrique Pearce, the San Francisco political consultant most recently on contract with the campaign to re-elect Mayor Ed Lee. The allegations are pretty nasty (you have been warned), and were considered worrisome enough that prosecutors successfully argued that Pearce's bail should be upped as "a public safety concern."
You know the story already: 41-year-old Enrique Pearce, the founder of powerful political PR agency Left Coast Communications and Pearce Law Offices (the websites for both are no longer online), was arrested last week on charges that he was in possession of over 600 images of minors engaging in sexual acts. He ponied up his bail just a few hours later, and presumably returned home to his recently-raided rental apartment at 83 McAllister Street near Leavenworth Street.
Following his arrest, it appears that every client that was or had been working with Left Coast cut ties and distanced themselves, including Lee, Supes Jane Kim and Norman Yee, former Supe Christina Olague, U.S. Rep. Barbara Lee of Oakland, and Board of Education members Sandra Lee Fewer and Hydra Mendoza.
Though Pearce has avoided the media — with whom he's had a, shall we say, often adversarial relationship, since his arrest — he couldn't duck them Wednesday, when he was arraigned in San Francisco Superior court.
The scene outside the courtroom was, as one witness told SFist, "the biggest media circus since Mirkarimi," a reference to the SF Sheriff's appearances in "family court" on charges of domestic violence.
Inside the courtroom, Assistant District Attorney Alexis Feigen Fasteau said that the investigation into Pearce began on February 7, when "a man whose name is not being revealed at the request of the District Attorney was pinged on two separate Yahoo! Messenger accounts from a user with the handle 'redentice,'" SF Mag reports.
In a subsequent conversation, “redentice” asked the man “if he is looking to be friends with other ‘pervs,'" and said that "sharing a boy with another man is really hot."
"Redentice" said that he kept his taste for boys secret from his boyfriend, the Ex reports.
Finally, "redentice" sent the unnamed man "a pair of images; one reportedly depicted a prepubescent boy exposing himself to the camera; the other showed one young boy fondling another’s penis."
Outside the courtroom, Feigen Fasteau said that when the man received those images, he contacted police. According to the Chron, the recipient of the messages "walked into Central Police Station" to alert them to the messages.
"From there...a series of search warrants were obtained and Pearce was linked to the Yahoo messenger account that sent the images, that account was linked to Pearce's IP address and from there, to his home address," Bay City News reports.
And once police were in Pearce's home, here's what they say they found:
- a parking meter valued at $1,800, believed to have been stolen from somewhere in the Tenderloin
- 4,902 images and videos of child pornography across two silver Apple laptops
- 102 pictures and 96 videos (stored across two of Pearce's laptops and his phone) of boys (ages estimated at between 6 months and 12 years), some of them bound, as they are sodomized by adult males. SF Weekly has the court documents detailing these images and video. It's awful.
- 115 cell phone photos of 11 different fully clothed boys aged 8-12, all shot across SF apparently without the kids' knowledge, including at least one shot on the steps of City Hall
Feigen Fasteau says that Pearce owns a third laptop, which has yet to be found.
Pearce also has an unresolved DUI misdemeanor from 2013, Feigen Fasteau said, and argued that the clandestinely taken (if that's what, indeed, they were) photos of kids around SF indicate that Pearce "was going beyond just looking at images and may have been potentially seeking a victim" and that he represented a significant enough public safety concern that his bail should be increased.
“Babies as young as infants in onesies were being sodomized by adults,” the Chron reports Feigen Fasteau said in court.
“There were children tied up and sexually abused.”
San Francisco Superior Court Judge Robert Foley apparently agreed, raising Pearce's bail to $400,000. He was cuffed on the spot, and returned to SF County jail until he made the additional bail amount.
His attorney, Eileen Burke, entered a not guilty plea on Pearce's behalf, and later told the Chron that “Of course, we are going to fight in the courtroom, not the media. This is incredibly unfair."
"He'll be posting the bail and getting out and we'll be fighting these charges and we'll be reviewing and taking a look at the evidence and allegations over the next few weeks," Burke told ABC7.
"I don't think he's a safety risk of any sort. He's lived and worked here for over 20 years."
Pearce is facing six felony counts including possession of sadomasochistic child or youth pornography, possession and distribution of child pornography and possession of stolen property (that parking meter!). He's scheduled to return to court on June 12