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SF political consultant charged with child porn ordered to stay away from minors

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Enrique Pearce in May before his arraignment. GABRIELLE LURIE-SPECIAL TO THE SF EXAMINER.
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A San Francisco political consultant arrested last month on child porn charges must stay away from underage youths and is barred from photographing them as part of a protective order granted Friday in Superior Court.

Enrique Pearce was arrested in early May after police reportedly determined that he was in possession of images of young and prepubescent children being sexually abused and raped. On May 13, he pleaded not guilty to six felony counts, including possession and distribution of child pornography and possession of sadomasochistic images involving children.

On Friday morning, Pearce stood beside his new lawyer Edwin Prather as Assistant District Attorney Alexis Fasteau made her case for a protective order that would prevent Pearce from interacting with minors and from taking their photos.

The prohibition from photographing minors, said Fasteau, arises out of images found on his phone that “were of unsuspecting minors in his preferred sexual group,” which were preteen boys.

But Edwin Prather, Pearce’s new lawyer, argued that the protective order would essentially prevent Pearce from walking down the street.

“The minute he walks out of this courtroom he’s in violation of this order,” said Prather, who added that it would essentially “set him up for arrest down the line.”

That argument did not convince Judge Ethan Schulman, who granted the order, saying, “This is an appropriate and reasonable order under the circumstance.”

Schulman said the order simply prevents Pearce from making wilful contact with minors and from taking their photos, not walking past them on the street.

After court Prather said there needs to be a distinction made between images found on his client’s phone that are being alleged as surreptitious photos taken of prepubescent boys and images that are intended to be pornography.

Prather said the images on his client’s phone are not porn and were taken as part of his job, not in secret and for sexual gratification.

While Prather would not comment directly on the images, he did say that in child porn cases that he’s worked on in the past similar images seem to reappear as if they are being circulated again and again.

“It’s almost like the same collection’s being passed around,” he said.

But types of images aside, Prather said these cases are delicate for everyone involved.

“I understand there’s a lot of public and media scrutiny,” he said, but Pearce, like all defendants, is innocent until proven guilty.

Pearce is set to return to court Aug. 25.

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