ANACONDA – An Anaconda-Deer Lodge County commissioner accused of felony sex crimes against a girl must now wear a GPS monitoring device while on release pending trial.
Robert Pierce, 52, is charged with sexual assault and sexual intercourse without consent. He pleaded not guilty Aug. 22, and was at that time released on $20,000 bond.
Pierce was arrested again Monday after state prosecutors filed a motion that he violated conditions of the bond, including making contact with the alleged 14-year-old victim and another witness in the case.
Pierce appeared Thursday in Butte District Court before Judge Brad Newman, who reinstated bond at $20,000 and revised the court’s conditions of release.
Specifically, Pierce — who lives in Opportunity — had been placed under informal house arrest when not at work or meeting with his attorney. Newman instead ordered the GPS monitor to track Pierce.
Newman, presiding in place of Anaconda District Judge Ray Dayton, also reiterated that Pierce is not to seek contact with the alleged victim. The state accused Pierce of driving past the girl last week, honking to get her attention before making an obscene gesture and mouthing an additional obscenity.
Pierce denied that allegation. He raised concern about the possibility of incidental contact with her or other potential witnesses in a community the size of Opportunity, especially given his work as a commissioner and insurance salesman.
Incidental contact is not a violation of bond, Newman said, but it will be Pierce’s responsibility to ensure he immediately leaves the setting.
Assistant Attorney General Mary Cochenour appeared at the hearing via video conference, and initially suggested GPS tracking to ensure the alleged victim’s safety. Pierce is otherwise allowed to travel within Montana for work, and to meet with clients.
Charging documents in the case allege Pierce engaged in inappropriate sexual contact with the girl on at least three occasions, the first when she was in third or fourth grade.
Pierce has firmly denied ever touching the girl. His attorney, Victor Bunitsky, said they intend to continue fighting the charges.
“He maintains his innocence,” Bunitsky said. “Remember, these are allegations. There’s been no proof against him.”
Pierce represents District 4 on the commission, a position he has held for six years. He previously told The Montana Standard he will not resign the seat. His term expires Dec. 31, 2014.
The county charter stipulates Pierce can remain on the commission unless he is found guilty.
A jury trial is scheduled for March 11.