Heather Dennis is employed in education. For the sake of disclosure, she knows Steve Pigeon, is familiar with his case, but is not part of his legal team. She did not discuss this post with Pigeon or his legal team before submitting it to Frank Report. Her opinions are her own.
By Heather Dennis
This article is about Erie County District Attorney John Flynn’s prosecution of G. Steven Pigeon for child rape, and Pigeon’s motion to disqualify Flynn and appoint a special prosecutor.
For Flynn’s sake, for Pigeon’s, for the child accuser, and for the sake of the people’s faith in the judicial system, I hope New York State Supreme Court Justice Kevin Carter, the administrative judge of Western New York’s Eighth Judicial District, decides to disqualify Flynn.
Justice Carter said he would rule in about a week. The court has set Pigeon’s rape trial for December.
Flynn’s Arrest and Pigeon Bail
According to an agreement between the NY State Police and Pigeon’s lawyer, Pigeon was to turn himself in, undergo processing at the State Police barracks, and attend arraignment in his business attire without handcuffs.
At the State Police Barracks, State Police told Pigeon that somehow the fingerprinting machine was malfunctioning.
The processing was transferred to the Erie County Holding Center, where Erie County suddenly took custody of Pigeon from the State Police.
Erie County Correctional Officers ordered Pigeon stripped into an orange jumpsuit, then handcuffed and shackled.
When the guards brought Pigeon before the judge for arraignment, with news cameras taking photos and video, he was dressed in the bright orange prison uniform and restrained with handcuffs and shackles.
Was someone behind this?
The judge refused to grant him bail and remanded him to the custody of the Erie County Holding Center until a bail hearing could be held the following week.
Flynn held a press conference and spoke about Pigeon’s arrest, while Pigeon was in custody.
Flynn said at a press conference:
“I, as you know, we asked for a remand here, no bail. We got that from the judge. I am very grateful for that. I do not believe that Mr. Pigeon should be out of, I believe that he should in jail for the rest of his life, quite frankly.
And so we are going to proceed forward to that.”
Flynn made what might be a Freudian slip when he called Pigeon a “victim,” then corrected himself to call Pigeon a “defendant.”
Flynn continued, “the defense will argue that the victim — that the defendant here is not a flight risk, that defendant does have ties to the community, and, therefore, the defendant should be let out on bail. We will argue that the defendant doesn’t have any ties to the community anymore; that he really has no permanent address. From what we can gather, he is staying down in Florida half the time. He’s got a buddy who lives in Niagara Falls. He hangs out with him once in a while and doesn’t have any kind of permanent home here in Buffalo… [H]e’s facing life in prison. This isn’t some, you know, misdemeanor charge they have in Federal Court…
Flynn went on to say, using rather descriptive language:
“This is — this is big boy stuff Okay? This is rape. This isn’t child. Okay? This is rape. And so when we’re talking at that level, all right, we’re talking life imprisonment here. He needs to [be] treated like every other defendant who walks through these courthouse doors who is facing life. And the only people really who are facing life imprisonment are people charged with homicide. And, therefore, everyone who’s walked through this door in my five years here, I’d be shocked if anyone who’s facing life imprisonment wasn’t remanded. So those are the arguments that we’ll make when that, when that bail hearing comes.”
Flynn’s suggestion that Pigeon, 62, a man who, according to court filings, works as a consultant for billionaire Tom Golisano, and has a legal residence in Niagara Falls, is a homeless man who might flee, is inaccurate.
Judge William Boller held a hearing and set bail for Pigeon at $750,000. Pigeon made bail.
Flynn Meant Something He Did Not Say?
In opposition to Pigeon’s motion to disqualify her boss on accusations of bias and animosity, ADA Cathleen Roemer claimed Flynn’s statement, “Pigeon should go to jail for the rest of his life,” was misconstrued.
She argued Flynn intended to say, “if the defendant is convicted” before he said Pigeon should go to jail for the rest of his life,”
Pigeon makes the argument that Flynn violated the New York State Bar Association’s Rules of Professional Conduct regarding trial publicity.
3.6 (a): A lawyer… shall not make an extrajudicial statement [i.e. press conference] that the lawyer knows … will be disseminated by means of public communication and will have a substantial likelihood of materially prejudicing an adjudicative proceeding in the matter.
Rule 3.6 (b) A statement ordinarily is likely to prejudice materially an adjudicative proceeding when it refers to… a criminal matter or any other proceeding that could result in incarceration [like bail]…
Rule 3.6 (b-4) any opinion as to the guilt or innocence of a defendant or suspect in a criminal matter that could result in incarceration.
Within his ‘in-jail-for-life’ comment, Flynn made three distinct statements.
First, he thanked the judge for not granting Pigeon bail.
He said: “I, as you know, we asked for a remand here, no bail. We got that from the judge. I am very grateful for that.”
Flynn said, in his frank opinion, Pigeon should be in jail for the rest of his life. He said, “I do not believe that Mr. Pigeon should be out of, I believe that he should in jail for the rest of his life, quite frankly.”
There is room to doubt that Flynn meant to precede that with, “if Pigeon is convicted.”
But it becomes more doubtful when the third part of his comment is considered. He says he is proceeding to prosecute Pigeon for the purpose of putting him in jail for life.
Flynn said: “And so we are going to proceed forward to that.”
The Pigeon indictment is clear: The girl, now a teen, alleges Pigeon raped her once when she was under 11. Out of the blue, Pigeon allegedly raped a relative. There is no allegation that he groomed her or tried to rape her again.
Flynn’s investigation, indictment and press conference failed to bring forward any additional victims.
A then-56-year-old prominent man who never had an allegation of sexual abuse, never a whisper of it, suddenly rapes a girl he never groomed. Then after suddenly, spontaneously and successfully raping her and ensuring her silence (for five years), he never tried again between the rape in 2016 and her reporting it in 2021.
Pigeon has other relatives.
The DA has undoubtedly interviewed family members. None said Pigeon abused them, or we would have had another press conference. No one else came forward. Or Flynn would have told the media.
This is Big Boy prosecution. You don’t indict first and fail later. This is life in prison. Certainly Flynn must have checked the history of this troubled girl and her unstable mother. He defended the girl’s delayed reporting, and it appears there is no evidence other than the girl’s word.
Flynn says, “at the end of the day — listen here, at the end of the day, what’s — what’s going — what all these cases come down to a child’s going to say something. I presume he is going to say something. It didn’t happen, all right?
“At the end of the day, it’s a child’s word versus his word,” Flynn continued, “and I believe the child. I’m standing with the child, and I’m going to get the child justice.”
A reporter asked, “Do you have anything more than the word, an allegation of a child?”
Flynn said, “I’m not going to talk about any other evidence. But I have – but I have her word, though. I have her word.”
This is a Big Boy stuff here. Prosecutors can ruin lives with the stroke of a pen. Flynn never interviewed Pigeon. And he blocked Pigeon from testifying at the grand jury.
I went online and could not find another instance of a once-in-a-lifetime pedophile rape by a prominent person. The ones I found (think Jimmy Saville or Jeffrey Epstein) had many victims.
And once they groomed and raped a child, if the child did not report it, the pedophiles did it again and again, especially with victims who were family members.
When you consider Flynn had a long and adversarial history with the accused, it will shock the conscience if Justice Carter does not disqualify Flynn and let a special prosecutor conduct an independent investigation and, if it is warranted, a prosecution.
It may save more than Pigeon the anguish of a trial based on what seem to be false allegations. It may save the girl from a horrible predicament where, if she is lying, she is backed into a corner, with no way out from the case of a too eager prosecutor.
With the motion and publicity of Flynn’s alleged bias, Justice Carter might also save Flynn from what might be the most embarrassing and career-imploding loss of his life.
Just because Flynn chooses to die on this hill doesn’t mean Justice Carter must support him.
It is a well-established principle that even the appearance of a conflict throws dishonor on the judicial system and is grounds for disqualification.
If Flynn loses this case and Pigeon is exonerated, Flynn will truly look the fool, if not corrupt. For Flynn’s sake, he should hope Justice Carter disqualifies him.
And for the taxpayers too.
If he is acquitted, or the DA has to drop the case, or because the girl recants, Pigeon will surely sue Erie County for millions and win.
Pigeon has to sue when he wins the criminal case, if only not to live with the stench of the accusation, as criminal cases have a higher standard of evidence than a civil trial.
At a civil trial, every detail, every prejudice, every dereliction, and every clear sign of bias – everything will be revisited in excruciating detail for the jury to decide and make an award.
Pigeon’s lawyers will tell the jury how all this was red flagged before the trial — with plain evidence.
And the defense will be what? This is Big Boy stuff here, and Pigeon should be in prison for life because Flynn believed the word of a troubled teenage girl so much that he did not interview the accused and also ensured he did not have a chance to go before the grand jury in order to bring a novel once-in-a-lifetime spontaneous rape charge against a man with whom he had more than a decade history of adversarial relations.
It won’t be pretty.