San Francisco political consultant charged with child porn pleads not guilty

SAN FRANCISCO (BCN) — A prominent San Francisco political consultant is back in jail after pleading not guilty at his arraignment to six felonies related to the possession and distribution of child pornography Wednesday afternoon.

Enrique Pearce, a 41-year-old San Francisco resident who has worked on numerous high profile election campaigns, entered the courtroom today in a light brown suit, a white shirt, a blue striped tie and black shoes.

He left the courtroom in handcuffs and was placed back in jail, five days after he had initially bailed out.

Eileen Burke, the lawyer who is representing Pearce, walked into the courtroom with her client and told San Francisco Superior Court Judge Robert Foley that Pearce was pleading not guilty to the charges.

Max Szabo, a spokesman for the San Francisco District Attorney’s Office said Pearce was charged with six felonies related to child pornography, including possession of material involving sexual sadism or sexual masochism and receiving stolen property.

Judge Foley set Pearce’s bail at $400,000 today, up from the initial $215,000 set when he was arrested on Thursday afternoon.

In court, Assistant District Attorney Alexis Feigen Fasteau argued that the release of Pearce posed a public safety concern.

Feigen Fasteau told the judge that among the 4,902 images and videos of child pornography recovered from two of Pearce’s silver Apple laptops, there were graphic images showing sexual penetration of infants as
as six months old.

She said the child pornography investigation began when Pearce was allegedly chatting online with another man and sent him images of child pornography.

“He was talking about how he wants to share a boy with another man and that is hot to him,” Feigen Fasteau said.

That man reported Pearce to authorities, Feigen Fasteau said.

She said it appears that Pearce was going beyond just looking at images and may have been potentially seeking a victim.

The investigation also uncovered 115 images stored on Pearce’s cellphone, showing 11 clothed boys between 8 and 12 years old, who appeared not to know they were being photographed.

Those photos, allegedly taken by Pearce, include some that were taken on the steps of San Francisco City Hall, according to Feigen Fasteau.

She said Pearce’s alleged photographing of young boys also represents a public safety concern.

In addition, Pearce has an outstanding misdemeanor DUI from 2013 in San Francisco that has not been resolved, Fasteau said.

Burke, however, told the judge that Pearce is not a flight risk, that he has lived and worked in San Francisco for over 20 years and that his partner also lives in the city.

Feigen Fasteau said it’s also important to note that there is a third laptop allegedly belonging to Pearce that remains outstanding. She said the contents of that laptop are unknown.

When investigators issued a search warrant at Pearce’s home they could not locate the third laptop, she said.

Outside of court, Feigen Fasteau elaborated on the alleged evidence against Pearce.

Feigen Fasteau said that when the man received child pornography from Pearce on February 7, he reported it to authorities and forwarded them the messages.

From there, Feigen Fasteau said, 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.

Pearce was released from jail on Friday after posting bail, less than 24 hours after San Francisco police arrested him at about 5 p.m. Thursday after searching his residence on McAllister Street near Leavenworth Street.

Gatpandan said the search uncovered images related to child pornography, including material involving sexual sadism or sexual masochism.

Pearce, who works as a consultant at Left Coast Communications, has worked on political campaigns for U.S. Rep. Barbara Lee and San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee, as well as San Francisco supervisors Jane Kim and Norman Yee,
among others.

The defendant also established Pearce Law Offices, which is run out of the same office as Left Coast Communications.

Prior to graduating from the University of California at Berkeley’s School of Law, Pearce studied communication at Northwestern University.

According to Pearce Law Offices’ website, he has previously worked as a legislative aide to members of the San Francisco Board of Supervisors and been a political consultant on election campaigns.

Fasteau said that no other individuals have been arrested as a result of this investigation and said she doesn’t expect additional arrests to be made.

Officials have not said whether the creators of the child pornography found in Pearce’s possession have been identified or apprehended.

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