A former top Clinton aide and senior Democratic official has been sentenced after pleading guilty to a sickening slew of child rape charges.
Gerald Steven “Steve” Pigeon, the former chairman of the Erie County Democratic Party, received a prison sentence for the rape of a 9-year-old girl, the Erie District Attorney’s Office announced on Friday.
Pigon had a strong bond with prominent figures in the Democratic Party, such as the Clintons, former Governor Andrew Cuomo, and Nancy Pelosi.
Buffalo News reports: But on Friday, he stood before a judge in a Buffalo courtroom as a criminal.
Pigeon, 63, pleaded guilty in November to first-degree sexual abuse of a child, and State Supreme Court Justice M. William Boller was to sentence him to one year in jail.
But before that, the girl whom Pigeon admitted to abusing finally had her say, two and a half years after coming forward with shocking allegations.
Based on past legal proceedings, it was revealed that she was only 9 years old when the incident occurred. She was a student in the fourth grade and had some acquaintance with Pigeon.
A prosecutor said Friday the sexual abuse took place between Nov. 23, 2016 and Christmas of that year– he was taking her out as a Christmas celebration.
On Friday morning, the young girl, who is now a teenager, was present in the gallery, accompanied by her close family members. Another girl held onto her hand and ocasionally caressed her face.
Instead of reading her own statement, the girl opted to have Chief Cathleen M. Roemer of the Buffalo City Court Bureau, who is one of the prosecutors, read it aloud in court on her behalf.
The Buffalo News is not identifying the girl because she was the juvenile victim of a sex crime.
“I recall that during the initial year following the incident, I truly lacked understanding of the actual events,” Roemer recited from the young girl’s correspondence directed towards Boller. “I recognized its wrongness and that it should not have occurred. However, being a child, I had no comprehension of what rape entailed or its significance.”
She went on to say: “When I discovered the truth about what happened to me, I recall experiencing a strong sense of revulsion and and fear.”
She mentioned her desire to inform her mother, but then recalled Pigeon’s caution about causing harm to both her mother and brother.
The girl said she went from a “happy little girl to someone my family couldn’t even recognize.”
She made two suicide attempts, once at the age of 10 and then again at 12. She got involved with a group of negative influences and displayed rebellious behavior. She would secretly leave home and engage in substance abuse.
“Just so I could feel absolutely nothing,” she said.
She talked about the years of trauma she has endured. She has panic attacks and nightmares. She remembered waking up from one sweating and out of breath at 3 a.m. and needing to take a shower “because of how gross I felt.”
Her relationships have been affected, she said, even with her mother. “There was a point I couldn’t even look at her. Part of me felt that she should have known what was happening and and I blamed her for my suffering,” she said.
“You took away practically my entire childhood,” she said.
In the summer of 2021, the girl made her accusations against Pigeon known.
In December 2021, he faced charges following an indictment on six counts, which included two instances of predatory sexual assault against a minor. This charge, classified as a class A felony, could result in a potential life sentence if he were found guilty. Additionally, he was charged with first-degree rape, first-degree criminal sexual act, and first-degree sexual abuse, each with one count.
The trial was imminent, scheduled to commence on December 4, 2023, and jury selection was about to start.
Leading up to the incident, lawyers from both parties exchanged allegations of improper behavior in the courtroom as they refined their arguments for presenting before a jury. However, on November 6th, there was an unexpected twist when Pigeon unexpectedly confessed to one count of a serious crime involving sexual abuse of a child under 11 years old. As part of the agreement, which was approved by the victim and her family, he would serve a sentence of 364 days in a local detention facility.
This will be PIgeon’s third stint behind bars in recent years.
In July 2022, he was sentenced to four months in federal prison followed by one year of supervised release for making an illegal political donation.
Pigeon’s conviction stemmed from his admission of guilt in October 2018, where he confessed to conspiring to facilitate an unlawful contribution to Cuomo’s 2014 re-election campaign on behalf of the Canadian creator of an internet-based gambling enterprise. It is important to note that neither the governor nor his campaign were implicated in this matter.
The day after, he was handed down a one-year prison term in a state trial for corrupting State Supreme COurt Justice John A. Michalek. He confessed to providing the judge with perks such as complimentary tickets to premium seats at Buffalo Sabres games and attempting to secure employment for Michalek’s family members. As a part of this plan, Pigeon obtained information, including confidential details, regarding legal cases in which he had involvement.
The sentences were served at the same time.
During Friday’s hearing, Boller referred to letters that family members of the victim sent to him in which they questioned why Pigeon was sentenced to just one year.
Boller stressed to the individuals present in the courtroom that the victim and her relatives were in agreement with the recommended sentence. Boller emphasized that there should not be any critisism towards the legal system, as the decision was based on the mutual consent of the victim and the involved parties.
In her concluding statement, the victim expressed her desire for Pigeon to be imprisoned for the remainder of his life due to the harm he inflicted upon her.
“In her statement, she expressed that our desires are not always fulfilled. She shared her immense relief after enduring three arduous years, finally attaining a sense of justice for herself.”
Roemer, in addressing the judge, praised the victim for her courage in coming forward.
“The act of sexually assaulting a child is a truly wicked deed. It has no reasonable explanation or chance for forgiveness. However, this particular case goes beyond that. In this instance, the accused, a wealthy and politically influential individual, arrogantly believed he had the freedom to act as he pleased. He likely assumed that either the victim would not be believed or no one would even care. The bravery needed to confront those who are rich, powerful, and influential is something that many adults in this community may not possess,” stated Roemer.
“The defendant, with his political influence, his political ties and friends talked to the media, criticizing the victim’s integrity and mental health,” Roemer said. The girl “didn’t just survive a sexual assault. She survived three years of the defendant’s political friends criticizing her family, her character and her sanity.”
Roemer expressed that their attempt was unsuccessful. The fact remains that the truth holds significant influence, as it ultimately surfaces during a trial. This is perhaps the reason why the defense made contact with the Erie County District Attorney’s office prior to the trial and proposed a plea agreement.
Roemer stated that the girl has achieved a sense of resolution as a result of Pigeon openly confessing in court to sexually assaulting her.
Roemer said she hoped Pigeon would finally apologize.
Before he was officially sentenced, the judge allowed him the chance to make a statement.
Pigeon, wearing a navy suit, stood and declined.
“No apology?” Boller asked.
He softly uttered, “Not right now.”
A man’s voice expressing surprise could be heard in the gallery.
Boller commenced reading the statement: Pigeon is going to be confined in the Erie County Correctional Facility in Alden for approximately 364 days, potentially fewer if he behaves well, and will also be required to pay various charges. They talked about the necessity of arranging a hearing before his release since he will be obligated to register as a sex offender.
As Boller spoke, a court officer put handcuffs on Pigeon’s wrists, behind his back. He was led out of the courtroom but then the prosecutors asked him to be returned to confirm an order of protection to prevent Pigeon from contacting the girl or her family until 2031.
Then he was led out of court again, this time headed for a jail cell.
District Attorney John Flynn addressed the case with reporters following the hearing.
“There are many people in this country … who reach a pinnacle of their profession, and then do something wrong … and then the higher you are in your profession, the farther you fall,” Flynn said. “This is a pretty big fall.”
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