Anaconda commissioner’s rape trial will go ahead in district court

2013-03-28T09:00:00Z 2013-07-03T07:17:07Z Anaconda commissioner’s rape trial will go ahead in district courtBy John Grant Emeigh of The Montana Standard The Billings Gazette

BUTTE — An Anaconda commissioner accused of raping a child will not have his April trial delayed.

Butte District Judge Brad Newman on Wednesday denied a request to have Robert Pierce’s April 22 trial date continued. Pierce faces two felony counts of sexual intercourse without consent and sexual assault.

Pierce, 52, pleaded not guilty Monday to both charges.

The Anaconda-Deer Lodge County commissioner is accused of having sexual contact with a girl in April 2006 and April 2008 in Anaconda when the child was about 8 and 10.

Pierce’s attorney, Victor Bunitsky, requested the trial date be continued Monday to give him more time to prepare for his client’s defense. He made the request after the prosecution made a motion to submit 176 photographs has evidence in the trial. The photos show Pierce with the alleged victim and the alleged victim’s mother in social settings along with other family member and acquaintences.

Bunitsky asked the judge to give him more time to identify the other people in the photographs, so the may be interviewed as potential witnesses for the defense.

Montana Assistant Attorney General Daniel Guzynski argued against delaying the trial, stating that the family of the alleged victim deserved a speedy trial.

The judge pointed out in his six-page ruling that the charge was first brought against the defendant in April 2012. Newman ruled that the defense has had plenty of time to contact potential witnesses.

Pierce first pleaded not guilty to the charges in Anaconda court in August 2012. However, the defense was granted a substitute judge and Newman took over the case late last year.

In that time, the trial date had been continued twice, according to court documents.

Pierce remains free on bond. He represents District 4 on the commission. He works as an insurance agent in Butte.

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