TOPEKA, Kan. (KSNT) – After arguments from prosecutors and the defense, a judge decided Thursday to keep former Seaman High School coach Jeff Pierce in detention until his trial.
“I am not convinced Mr. Pierce will be able to comply with the restrictions we have laid out… or forthcoming,” Magistrate Judge Angel D. Mitchell said Thursday.
Pierce was ordered by the court to not make contact with any of the alleged victims, to maintain location monitoring, can not have contact with any minors and comply with U.S. Probation Department. Pierce may not have any pornography in his possession, or electronic devices.
A hearing for the former Seaman High School teacher and coach charged with sexual exploitation of minors was held today after being delayed earlier this month. The grand jury indicted Pearce with three counts including two counts of producing child pornography and one count possession of child photography.
The juveniles in count one and two are 14 and 15 years old respectively. At least one victim is alleged to be 12 to 13 years old. The production crimes are alleged to have occurred March 10 and March 14, 2020. The possession crime is alleged to have occurred Sept. 2, 2020.
If convicted, Pierce could face a penalty of 15 to 30 years in federal prison on each production count, and up to 10 years and a fine up to $250,000 on the possession count, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office in the District of Kansas.
The government asked for pretrial detention. Pierce did not object.
The government prosecutor listed evidence against Pierce, including attempts to entice minor children to share photographs of themselves. They claim Pierce attempted to contact 500 individuals, most of which were minors.
The FBI said Pierce was posing as a female and soliciting nude photographs from boys through various social media accounts. The prosecutor claimed he would threaten to expose minors if they did not send additional nude images or convince their friends to send images as well. The government said all user accounts that Pierce has been accused to contacting have not been found.
Lawyer Chris Joseph, representing Pierce, proposed to the court that the defendant be released into the custody of his father, who lives on a rural 40 acres of land, and be given no access to the internet.
“Jeff is willing to accept any conditions,” Joseph told Magistrate Judge Mitchell if he was released until his trial.
The prosecution urged the court to not release Pierce before the trial, calling the former teacher “dangerous.”
“I would ask the court to consider, he has met up with children,” the prosecution said.
Mitchell expressed concern there was “too much time” and “too many opportunities” to get Pierce to comply with the rules.
The preliminary hearing scheduled for Jeff Pierce was postponed after his attorney told the court they need additional time to propose a release plan for Pierce after “constant media attention” and “public backlash.”
“The nature of the allegations, the extraordinary media attention and the hostility of some members of the public, especially online, constitute good cause for continuing the detention hearing,” Chris Joseph, Pierce’s Topeka attorney, said in a court filing. Joseph said Pierce’s family has received threats.
Pierce was a teacher and coach in the Seaman and Auburn-Washburn districts in Topeka.