A Benton man appeared before the Arkansas Parole Board on Wednesday in a victim-input hearing that precedes the board's upcoming decision on whether to release David Pierce.
The 59-year-old former minister of music at First Baptist Church is serving a 10-year prison term for conviction of four counts of sexual indecency with a child. He was convicted in August 2009 as part of a negotiated plea in Saline County Circuit Court.
The seven-member Parole Board is scheduled to vote Jan. 26 on Pierce's possible parole and plans to release its decision Jan. 31, according to Parole Board spokesperson Rhonda Sharp.
During Wednesday's proceeding, the 31-year-old man reportedly told the board members that Pierce is not remorseful and he predicted that he will become a repeat offender if he is released into society.
A church spokesman previously said Pierce, after being confronted with the accusations of sexual abuse, acknowledged the incidents, but never apologized to the church.
At one time, he stated that he did not consider anything he had done to be criminally wrong, authorities said.
Though convicted of only four counts involving three separate victims, Pierce initially was charged with 54 counts of the crime. All of the victims were former members of the Pure Energy youth choir at First Baptist, which Pierce directed.
Pierce's actual sentence includes two six-year terms to run concurrently and two four-year terms to run concurrently, followed by an additional term of two years' suspended imposition of sentence.
Upon his release from prison, he will be required to register as a sex offender and will be listed as an habitual offender, according to Saline County Prosecuting Attorney Ken Casady, who has opposed any early release for Pierce.
In early 2011, parole was deferred for Pierce until he could take part in the Reduction of Sexual Victimization Program for sex offenders, which he has since completed.
He has been classified as a Level 3 sex offender, which ranks below the highest risk of Level 4 that is applied to sexual predators.
According to the Risk Assessment and Offender Profile Report, which was noted in a letter from Casady and is included in Pierce's case file, Pierce fits this designation because he is a repeat sexual offender with a strong antisocial, predatory personality.
After a parole hearing in November 2011, the board announced it would be considering additional information before making a decision on possible parole for Pierce. The victim-input hearing on Wednesday was part of that process, Sharp said.
Sharp noted that the board has the option "to defer again."
Pierce was not present for Wednesday's hearing.
Following Pierce's conviction, the Saline Courier conducted an interview with one of his victims. The man, now in his late 20s, spoke on the condition of anonymity and described the permanent scars he has suffered as a result of the abuse he suffered from Pierce.
This victim told the Courier said Pierce "always had a group of three guys he was pretty close to. He told us Jesus had the 12 disciples, but there were three he was closest to ... that was his justification for choosing three."
This individual has been one of the chosen three at one time, which was how Pierce "sold it," the victim said.
"It was a cool deal to have this person you looked up to spiritually and musically showing special interest in you. We started going to lunch and going on drives. It was all innocent at first.
"Then we started having what he called accountability time together," he said. "David called it 'the four S's.' He would check us spiritually, scholastically, socially and sexually.
"The longer this went on, the more attention he paid to us sexually," he said. "The questions became more pointed and much more detailed as things progressed. This led to pretty detailed conversations about masturbation, which evolved into some of the more inappropriate things ....
"This was a very systematic process and was basically brainwashing ... It was probably ninth grade when it started to really get inappropriate, such as the 'charting' thing. This started innocently — he would measure our height and weight, just to see how we had grown and matured — and he would record it just to compare us as we got older and against each other. This developed into measuring our private parts, which led to a kind of mutual masturbation.
"He would say things like 'we've already done this. I can measure you, and we might as well finish. He would watch us and then he would do his thing."
While this activity was taking place, pornography was displayed on the church computer, the man said.
Other accounts noted that similar activities occurred at a site on the Saline River.
The victim said the abuse "continued for years."
"We'll never know how many guys were affected —dozens, maybe triple digits — some who either don't want to talk about it or can't."
Ironically, the man said, Pierce never told any of the boys not to tell anybody. "He never had to. He was so good at what he did.
"Everybody that David chose was involved in church," the man said. "He chose leaders in youth group, young people involved in the spiritual community of Saline County and at school, which was a pretty devious plan on his part. He knew that we wouldn't say anything about what happened to us ..."