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PA- Sex offender’s body found in Delaware River

8-25-2008 Pennsylvania:

The body of a convicted sex offender was found floating in the Delaware River yesterday, a day after he was to have been sentenced in Montgomery County Court, police said.

James Pierce, 62, apparently jumped from the Tacony Palmyra Bridge on his birthday, Monday, leaving behind a note inside his parked car. Pierce, who had addresses in Telford and Philadelphia, faced 10 to 20 years in prison on the sex offender charge, police said.

His body was spotted shortly after 3 p.m. yesterday near a boat ramp on the 5800 block of Tacony Street. ..News Source.. by Sam Wood

Convicted child molester jumps off bridge

NORRISTOWN - A convicted child molester committed suicide this week just one day before his scheduled sentencing hearing in Montgomery County Court.

"All indications are that this was a self-imposed death sentence," said county First Assistant District Attorney Kevin R. Steele.

James J. Peirce, 60, of Telford and Philadelphia, drowned after jumping off the Talcony-Palmyra Bridge that spans Delaware River between Philadelphia and New Jersey on Aug. 25.

Peirce's lifeless body surfaced in the river on Aug. 27.

Authorities ruled the death a suicide after finding a note Peirce left behind in his car, according to Steele.

Peirce, who had been out on $250,000 bail after pleading guilty in April to a felony charge of aggravated indecent assault of a child, was scheduled to be sentenced on Aug. 26 by county Judge William J. Furber Jr.

Ironically, Peirce would have also turned 61 on that day.

County Assistant District Attorney Stephen Geday, who had previously notified Peirce and his attorney that he would be seeking a mandatory 10- to 20-year sentence, said a bench warrant was issued for Peirce when he failed to show for the hearing.

Peirce's lawyer told the court that he did not know where he client was. The defense attorney also advised the judge that Peirce family members were concerned because they had been unable to contact him, according to Geday.

The charge against Peirce stemmed from an incident last August in Abington.

Peirce, who was a close friend of the family, sexually assaulted the five-year-old girl while the two were alone in his care in a parking lot, said Geday. The girl told her mother, who contacted authorities.

Questioned by police, Peirce admitted to improperly touching the child.
"This was an horrific crime," said Geday. "This family had tremendous trust in this man. The child even considered him, symbolically, as a grandfather. With his actions, he betrayed them all."

Geday called the child a "brave little girl" for coming forward and telling her parents about the assault.

Geday called both the assault and the suicide "the actions of a coward." ..News Source.. by Margaret Gibbons

Cops say man awaiting sentencing in sexual assault killed himself this week

James Peirce would have turned 61 on Tuesday, the same day he was scheduled to be sentenced to 10 to 20 years in prison for sexually assaulting a 5-year-old girl.
He opted not to celebrate his birthday or go to jail, police say. Instead, they say, he jumped into the Delaware River.

"Self-imposed death penalty," said Kevin Steele, first assistant district attorney in Montgomery County, where Peirce pleaded guilty in April to aggravated indecent assault.

Steele said Peirce sexually assaulted the girl, who was a family friend, last August.

His body was recovered by the Philadelphia Police Marine Unit shortly before 3 p.m. Wednesday in the river behind the Dietz & Watson meat-processing plant on Tacony Street, said Officer Jillian Russell, a police spokeswoman.

Russell said Peirce, who had addresses in Philadelphia and Telford, Montgomery County, may have jumped from the Tacony-Palmyra Bridge. He likely jumped on Monday, she said.

Montgomery County detectives had been searching for Peirce after he failed to show up in Norristown on Tuesday afternoon for his sentencing before Judge William J. Furber Jr.

"When he didn't appear, a bench warrant was issued and they went out looking for him," Steele said.

County authorities were informed Wednesday night that his body had been found in the river.

Jeff Moran, spokesman for the Philadelphia Medical Examiner's Office, said yesterday that the cause of Peirce's death was drowning and the manner was suicide. ..News Source.. by WILLIAM BENDER, Philadelphia Daily News

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