The 42-year-old Canadian citizen and longtime resident of the Bay Area accused of a brutal attack on Paul Pelosi three weeks ago, David DePape, made his scheduled appearance in federal court on Tuesday where he faces separate charges from those filed in state court.
DePape appeared in an orange jumpsuit without handcuffs in federal court in San Francisco this morning, as the Associated Press reports. He was assigned a federal court-appointed attorney, Angela Chuang. Christine Pelosi, one of the Pelosis' children, was in attendance in the courtroom, per the AP.
As ABC 7 reports, DePape was accompanied by five U.S. marshals and a pair of SF sheriff's deputies.
U.S. Magistrate Alex Tse read DePape his Miranda rights and prosecutors summariezed the charges against him — which in this court include attempted kidnapping of a federal officer, and assault on an immediate family member of a federal officer. The charges carry with them a combined 50 years in prison, and a half million dollars in fines.
DePape entered a plea of not guilty, and Chuang indicated that she would not seek DePape's release from custody. As the Chronicle reports, he is being held in SF County Jail as he faces a parallel prosecution in state court for the assault on Mr. Pelosi.
As we learned two weeks ago, DePape never became a U.S. citizen despite living in the Bay Area for the better part of the last two decades. He was born in Canada, and San Francisco appears to have a record of him registering to vote with the Green Party and voting at least once in 2002. At the time, he may have had some kind of legal resident status from a job he'd earlier held in Hawaii, though that is not clear.
He had last legally entered the country in 2008 at the San Ysidro border crossing just south of San Diego.
The Los Angeles Times this week delves into DePape's past, and his recent history of radicalization-by-internet — something that had been reported earlier by the New York Times through an interview with his frequent employer, East Bay carpenter Frank Ciccarelli. Ciccarelli says of DePape, "Everybody liked him," and he says that while his ideas and obsession with conspiracies like Pizzagate and QAnon grew more ridiculous in the last year or so, he just dismissed it.
"I didn’t take it seriously and I was wrong about that, obviously, although I didn’t know any better,” Ciccarelli tells the LA Times. "I’ve tried to help him the best as I could, but there’s something going on here that’s not obvious to most of us."
We've talked before about how DePape was likely more left-leaning during much of his time in the Bay Area — his former girlfriend Gypsy Taub said he had been a fan of Barack Obama. But Taub hinted that they both shared conspiracy-esque ideas about the "shadow government" and secret ruling cabals. And it seems clear that after experiencing homelessness and some possible mental health struggles, DePape settled into a routine of consuming radical right-wing content and conspiracy stuff during free time in his rented garage in Richmond.
As Ciccarelli earlier told the New York Times, "Once he was housed, he had much more time to spend on his computer. Because when you’re living under a tree, you don’t have a plug."
And the LA Times now talks to some experts about the idea that DePape's ideology likely shifted, and that he was likely fed more and more extreme content through YouTube's algorithm and others, which made him convinced of things like the pizza-parlor-adjacent pedophile ring which was widely debunked over six years ago.
As recently as August, DePape was blogging about the connection between elite figures and documented pedophile Jeffrey Epstein, saying, "My friends would be like pizza gate was debunked their is NO such thing as elite pedophile sex rings and I’m like HELLO Epstein what planet are you on?"
This obsession seems ironic given what stepdaughter Inti Gonzalez wrote about DePape in the days after his arrest, on her Facebook page. Gonzalez, whose mother is Taub, has two younger brothers whom the LA Times now says are biological sons of DePape — which has not been reported before. As the NY Post reported in the wake of the Pelosi attack, Gonzalez wrote in a now deleted post, "This attack on Nancy Pelosi’s husband came as a shock to me, though not much considering the kind of extreme abuse he had inflicted on me and my brothers." Gonzalez went on to discuss how her brother Nebosvod began remembering that DePape "physically and sexually abusing me and my brothers, which started when we were very young and continued until around 2008." This happened, she said, after Taub and DePape broke up for the last time and Taub kicked him out of the house for "toxic behavior" in 2014.
It was at that point DePape apparently became homeless for several years.
The LA Times also spoke to a neighbor of DePape, Jin Molnar, who described sharing some of DePape's right-wing views, like his skepticism about COVID and vaccines. But Molnar also expressed regret about not keeping better tabs on DePape and his mental state. "I think his early life and his middle life had left him pretty bereft of good contacts,” Molnar tells the paper. “And so I think when he started to hear about that [conspiracy] stuff... it was like a little bit of an anchor.”
And it seems clear enough at this point that DePape didn't so much subscribe to one ideology — he likely believed in Taub's nudism/body freedom cause just as much as he belived in QAnon and the idea that 9/11 was an inside job (something Taub and a lot of people on the left have long espoused). But he'd spent enough time in recent months consuming content that vilified Nancy Pelosi — of which there is mountains — that kidnapping and torturing her seems to have been an irrational next step ahead of the midterm elections.
The incident has prompted much public discussion about the security provided to members of Congress — there's not much if you're not Speaker — and Nancy Pelosi may yet use this incident as an out as she was likely considering retirement anyway. Though her next steps, as the House likely moves to GOP control, remain uncertain.
Top image via Frank Ciccarelli