As we leavebehind July 4th weekend, we pause to think of those without liberty.
This is a criminal lawyer’s blog, so that means incarcerated persons.
Take 53-year-old Middle School Teacher Scott Peeler (hereinafter, the “Defendant”) for example. No, he has not been convicted of anything. He has been accused though. So, particularly in the federal criminal justice system, that is enough to lock him up.
Without bail, for now.
While not a crime of violence, the charges facing the Defendant are very serious and considered quite heinous.
The Defendant stands accused of trafficking in child pornography.
The FBI claims that he was arrested a week ago after he tried to purchase live video sex shows involving Filipino children on the Internet.
Scott Peeler, 53, who works for Southbridge Public Schools, was arrested Tuesday morning at his home at 28 Trinity Ave. in Worcester, the FBI said.
The Defendant faces charges of attempting to entice and coerce a minor to engage in sexual activity and receipt of child pornography. He made an initial appearance in U.S. District Court in Worcester Last Tuesday and was held pending a detention hearing on Thursday. Said hearing is scheduled to continue today.
According to court documents, the Defendant, between April 2013 and July 2014, Is said to have used Internet-based instant messaging services with video-streaming capabilities to communicate with individuals in the Philippines who were engaged in child sex trafficking and the sale of live-streaming sex shows involving children. The government says that he, using Internet-based money transfer services, attempted on at least four occasions to arrange the purchase of live video sex shows involving children who ranged in age from 4 to 14.
The FBI also claims that the Defendant admitted that he owned the email and instant messaging account that was used to solicit the streaming videos. However, he said he never purchased any videos.
According to WCVB’s article, school worker faces federal child porn charges after FBI arrest, investigators contrarily say that child pornography was found on the Defendant’s computer.
In a statement, Southbridge Public Schools said they were “extremely alarmed” by the allegations.
“The School Department is extremely alarmed by these charges and has taken
immediate steps to ensure the safety of our students. We have placed the employee on administrative leave, ensured that the employee is not currently involved in any summer programming, and have requested a no trespass order through the police department,” Acting Superintendent Sheryl Stanton said in a statement.
In addition to his job with Southbridge Public Schools, the Defendant also works part time in a non-patient care position at Adcare, a drug and alcohol rehab facility, the company said.
Apparently, Filipino authorities, working in conjunction with Homeland Security Investigators and the FBI, have arrested the members of the organization and rescued the children being exploited. They indicate that operators of the child sex trafficking organization will face prosecution in the Philippines.
Attorney Sam’s Take On Federal Criminal Investigations
From the defense perspective, these are very difficult and,often, complex cases. When the matter has been investigated and prosecuted by federal authorities even more so.
We have often discussed how, in a state prosecution, the Commonwealth has a “leg up” on the case…particularly in the beginning. After all, it is law enforcement who initiates the investigation and is gathering evidence long before a soon-to-be defendant even knows that he/she is even being noticed. Often, by the time the defense is even alerted to the upcoming prosecution, things are allegedly observed and evidence gathered that will never be able to be sufficiently examined by the time criminal charges roll around.
Now, add to that the resources of the FBI, Secret Service, ATF, ICE, Homeland Security and other agencies of the United States Of America and one cannot properly describe the advantages the prosecution will have as the matter comes to court.
“Sam, isn’t that the way it should be? After all, they are the ‘good guys’ who are protecting us!”
Well, sure, if we want to take the blind position that said agencies are always the ‘good guys’, never falsify evidence, never lie in their reports or testimony and are always the professional pillars of integrity.
That is pretty tough to swallow for most people in 2015. We have seen too much evidence to the contrary.
To those who are in the trenches of the criminal justice system daily, well…we have Really seen too much.
“You make it sound pretty hopeless to defend federal cases. “
Not at all. But you had better have experienced counsel who knows what to look for and how best to handle the situation if you do want hope.