ANACONDA — Anaconda-Deer Lodge County Commissioner Robert Pierce was arrested Friday evening on a warrant charging him with felony sexual intercourse without consent.
The warrant also charges Pierce, who is in his early 50s, with sexual assault against a minor. He is released from jail after posting $20,000 bond.
Police Chief Tim Barkell said officers arrested Pierce without incident on his way home from his job as an insurance agent in Butte. The charges stemmed from a six-month investigation by the state Department of Justice Division of Criminal Investigation.
Agent Lee Johnson could not be reached for comment on the specifics of the case. A home phone number for Pierce was disconnected, and he also could not be reached for comment.
Pierce, who lives in Opportunity and represents District 4 on the commission, is allowed to retain his seat unless he chooses to resign, according to the county charter. A commissioner cannot be dismissed unless actually convicted of a felony.
If Pierce resigns, the commission must appoint an interim commissioner to finish the term, which expires Dec. 31, 2014. Pierce ran unopposed in the 2010 election.
Interim Chief Executive Connie Ternes-Daniels declined comment, and sent an email instructing fellow commissioners not to comment.
Police received an initial report in February that accused Pierce of sexually assaulting a young girl, Barkell then told The Montana Standard. A restraining order was filed against Pierce by the alleged victim’s family, and state investigators began looking into the accusations.
Pierce denied any wrongdoing at the time and told the Standard he planned to hire an attorney.