It’s another case that vividly illustrates how politically and judicially connected child exploiters escape punishment and scrutiny. San Francisco Police nearly two years ago arrested prominent Democratic Party political consultant and attorney Enrique Pearce, 43, on six felony charges related to the possession and distribution of grotesquely sadistic child pornography involving the brutal rape and molestation of young children and infants, some as young as 6 months old.
Although evidence gathered by investigators also showed Pearce exhibiting signs of increasingly aggressive predatory behavior toward children in his community and was deemed a safety risk, a controversial retired judge “on temporary assignment” gave him just six months home detention.
And yet again, as with the 150-terabyte child pornography bust in Norway, the story is essentially ignored by the mainstream national news.
Who is Enrique Pearce?
Pearce is described as one of San Francisco’s “most successful and sometimes controversial political consultant,” a “shady” and “sleazy” operative connected to a wide range of top politicos. He is the founder of Left Coast Communications and is a well-known attorney.
He “catapulted to local political prominence after managing Matt Gonzalez’s campaign for mayor in 2003,” according to SF Weekly. “He earned a reputation as a skilled campaign logo and graphics maker, and piled up a string of victories, including the elections of Supervisor Jane Kim and school board members Hydra Mendoza and Sandra Fewer.”
Attorney Jane Kim represents District 6 on San Francisco’s Board of Supervisors. District 6 includes Chinatown, the rich and seedy Tenderloin neighborhood and is headquarters to high tech companies such as Twitter and Spotify. About 90% of the photos of Pearce on the Internet show him with Kim in social settings, which suggests they have more than just a consultant-client relationship.
Now, take a closer look at the photo to the left, and then look at the close up to the right. Notice the painting on the wall in between Kim and Pearce. See anything odd or familiar about it? If not, see James “Pizzagate” Alefantis’ “kill room” photo and the Podesta brothers’ sick taste in “art.”
Notably, on Aug. 30 — the day after Huma Abadin announced her separation from serial sexter Anthony Weiner — the San Francisco Chronicle revealed Kim’s ties to Hillary Clinton and California’s Supreme Court.
Another high-level matrimonial split has hit the Hillary Clinton campaign, this one involving the parting of top adviser Ann O’Leary and her husband, California Supreme Court Justice Goodwin Liu — who sources have confirmed is now dating his onetime law student, San Francisco Supervisor Jane Kim.
In addition to his ties to California State Assemblyman of 30 years Willie Brown, who has been described as the grease behind San Francisco’s machine politics, Pearce also had close ties to Chinatown’s “well-connected gatekeeper” Rose Pak. At the time of his arrest, Pearce was on the payroll of San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee for $5,000 a month. Some suspect Lee’s payments are hush money for staging fake grassroots support for the “Run, Ed, Run” campaign.
Some years back, SF Weekly interviewed Pearce for a profile piece during which he offered a little psychopathic reveal:
It will be solace to some that Enrique Pearce does not sleep well at night. …
“I’ve been an insomniac ever since middle school,” said Pearce over brunch on a recent Sunday, where in between sips of a mimosa — just one before a brace of meetings with his clients, who range from longtime Oakland Rep. Barbara Lee to political neophytes marshaling a run for school board (where Kim got her start) — he noted the past night’s two hours’ sleep. …
The reporter presumed Pearce was up late at night working on campaign strategies. Now we know what he was really up to.
‘Do you perv?’
One possibly sleepless night in February 2015, Pearce, using the screen name “RedEntice,” chatted up a man on Yahoo! Messenger. Pearce wrote “sharing a boy with another man is really hot.” He told him he was “lookin to explore 8-12” and asked “do you perv?” Pearce then sent him two pornographic images — one of a boy around age 7 lying naked on a field of grass and the other of two boys, each about 12, lying on a bed with one fondling the other’s genitals. He asked the man to send a photo of “his dick” in return.
Rather than reciprocate, the man reported the incident to Central Police station. The department’s special victims unit traced the messages’ IP address to Pearce.
Search and Seizure
Police served a search warrant on May 7, 2015, at Pearce’s Tenderloin District flat located at 83 McAllister Street and his law offices at 901 Market Street. Officers seized two Apple laptops, two smartphones, an additional hard drive and a tablet computer, according to SF Gate news.
The devices revealed “images of sadomasochism and particularly young victims,” including one of a boy under 10 tied to a chair and being sexually abused. The video files include a boy, age 3 to 5, tied down while being raped by a man, toddlers being sodomized by adult males and young children under 8 years old being bound and raped.
In total, police found 4,902 images and almost 200 videos of child pornography on the two laptops.
The following is an excerpt from court documents. WARNING: Extremely graphic and horrific.
Investigators also found 115 photos of children that Pearce himself covertly took throughout the city, including on the steps of City Hall. Deputy District Attorney Alexis Fasteaus told the Chronicle the children were “unsuspecting minors in his preferred sexual group.”
SF Weekly: He took photos of boys in this age group out in public with his iPhone, according to court filings. He harbored fantasies of sharing such a child with another man, and he also stashed images of prepubescent boys in S&M acts and infants as young as “6 months old” in various sex acts, according to prosecutors.
Police arrested Pearce at the time of the search. He posted $250,000 bail the following day.
May 13, 2015: Superior Court Judge Robert Foley determined Pearce was a public safety risk, increased his bail to $400,000 and remanded him to custody. Pearce, appearing with his lawyer Eileen Burke, pleaded not guilty to six felony counts — five for child pornography charges and a sixth felony count for possession of stolen property involving a city parking meter found in his apartment. He posted the additional bail and was released.
June 12, 2015: Judge Ethan Schulman issued a protective order stating that Pearce, who appeared in court with his new lawyer Edwin Prather, must not have willful contact with underage youths and barred him from photographing them. Following the discovery phase, the hearing was set for Aug. 25.
Aug. 25, 2015: What happened? News coverage of Pearce’s case dropped off the media radar. More than a year later, there was still no trial, prompting a local writer to post an article titled “Missing Person: Enrique Pearce.”
BREAD AND CIRCUS: Ah yes, his trial. The one that never came. After a series of court appearances following his arrest, Pearce’s trial was set for June 12. Nothing happened on that date and coverage of Enrique Pearce stopped for over a year. It took Lauren Chief Elk and I throwing Pearce’s name around like a Frisbee on Twitter, and a little trolling of San Francisco DA George Gascón, to conjure Pearce’s name into public record again. That yielded a “Stay Tuned” from Gascón, and the scheduling of an October 19 court date that … well, we don’t know. The media wandered off again, allowing Pearce to re-schedule to a future date that may or may not ever be named. So. If you see Mr. Pearce, know what he’s up to or just where he’s been passing his days, be sure to let us know so I can update this article on the whereabouts of an alleged child predator currently being sheltered by the state.
The Examiner published a brief stating that Pearce was set to appear in Superior Court on Sept. 22, 2016, but the status hearing was then rescheduled for Oct. 19.
Oct. 19, 2016: Status unknown.
Enter Retired Judge Navarro
During the 18 months since his initial arrest, Pearce either got extremely lucky or called in some favors — perhaps from Mayor Ed Lee or Jane Kim’s boyfriend, the California Supreme Court justice Liu. His locally high-profile case turned cold was handed over as a “temporary assignment” to Rene Navarro, a retired superior court judge from Santa Clara County who had a reputation for bypassing prosecutors and “plea bargaining” directly with defendants.
As SF Gate reported in 2013 on a case involving Navarro’s approach of telling a defendant what sentence he will deliver in exchange for a guilty plea:
Judges aren’t allowed to plea-bargain with criminal defendants — that’s reserved for the prosecutor. But the [California] Supreme Court said Thursday that judges can still resolve criminal cases by telling defendants what sentence they’ll face if they plead guilty to all charges. The unanimous ruling in a case from Santa Clara County defines the boundary between a prosecutor’s power to file charges and negotiate with the defense over their disposition, and a judge’s power to manage cases and impose sentences.
However, Navarro — who, as a retired judge on “temporary assignment,” faces no professional or political fallout — offered Pearce a mere wrist slap in exchange for a guilty plea to reduced charges.
Dec. 23, 2016: The Friday before Christmas eve, a time when most reporters and justice department staffers are distracted by the holiday or on break, Pearce finally reappeared in court after a lengthy hiatus. Clearly, he pleaded guilty to reduced charges — three counts of child pornography, not the original five. In exchange, he negotiated a mere wrist slap. Only SF Gate offered the story (with no byline).
Enrique Pearce pleaded guilty to two counts of distributing child pornography, one count of buying or receiving stolen property [the parking meter], and one count of possession or control of child pornography …
As a result of the guilty plea, a judge is expected to sentence Pearce to six months in county jail, which may be served on home detention. Additionally, Pearce may also be sentenced to 5 months probation and may have to register as a sex offender for life, prosecutors said.
Sentencing guidelines provided that Pearce could serve only half of his 6-month home-detention time.
Spokesman for the D.A. Max Szabo told the Chronicle prosecutors had pressed Judge Navarro for a state prison sentence.
But under state rules, [prosecutors] didn’t get a say-so in the plea deal — Pearce could simply admit to all four charges against him in court once Navarro told him what the likely sentence would be. “Our hands are tied,” Szabo said.
Sentencing was scheduled for Jan. 25.
Jan. 25, 2017: Pearce’s sweetheart deal appeared to be done, sentencing just a formality. But San Francisco’s sheriff found a wrench and threw it at the twisted system.
SF Gate: Sheriff Vicki Hennessy is balking at enforcing a portion of the agreement that Pearce cut with a judge to plead guilty in exchange for a sentence of six months of home detention. The deal would have Pearce submit to monitoring with an ankle bracelet, and that’s the part the sheriff won’t sign off on.
People convicted of child pornography, perpetrators of domestic violence and some other categories of criminals don’t qualify for electronic monitoring in San Francisco, under Sheriff’s Department policies.
“We do not authorize electronic monitoring for charges in this case,” said sheriff’s spokeswoman Eileen Hirst. “The judge may check a box on a sentencing document indicating an alternative sentence to jail is approved, but the jail ultimately has the authority for protecting public safety and determining the most appropriate sentence for an individual.”
That forced Judge Rene Navarro to postpone Wednesday’s formal sentencing while Pearce’s attorney scrambled to figure out an alternative game plan.
March 10, 2017: Pearce’s third defense attorney, Douglas Horngrad, told the court he had arranged for a company called Intercept to supply an electronic ankle bracelet for Pearce and do the monitoring. But the D.A.’s office said the proposal “would not result in the accrual of custody credits” demanded by the severity of Pearce’s crimes “and would not be considered the equivalent of County Jail,” the Chronicle reports.
Pearce is due back in court on April 7 at which time he will “either keep his plea and serve the recommended six months in County Jail, or remove his plea and move toward a trail,” the San Francisco Examiner reports. Meanwhile, as of today, he’s still not listed on California’s sex-offender registry.