Fierce Freedom educates the community to prepare for the sentencing of Dan Peggs

Published: Aug. 4, 2021 at 11:06 PM CDT
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

EAU CLAIRE, Wis. (WEAU) - Leaders at Fierce Freedom spent Wednesday evening at Valleybrook Church in Eau Claire, educating and answering questions about the next steps in the legal process for former Altoona superintendent Dan Peggs.

In a plea deal reached in July, Peggs pleaded guilty to one count of child pornography, dismissing his most serious charges of sex trafficking a minor and production of child pornography. With his guilty plea, he faces up to 10 years in prison and a fine of up to $250,000. Peggs is scheduled for a plea hearing on August 20 in Madison. If the deal is accepted, a judge would return a sentence eight to 10 weeks later.

“The reason we should pay attention to this case is because it is not isolated,” said John Pulley, a demand reduction expert at Fierce Freedom, an Altoona based organization which aims to raise awareness about human trafficking.

Pulley said he was not surprised by the plea deal because trials are expensive, it ensures a guilty plea and protects victims from having to take the stand and relive their trauma.

“We have to put our trust in the system that they are making the best decisions for our community,” he said to the audience.

Amanda Casey, a survivor advocate for Fierce Freedom spoke about the impact the sentencing proceeding can have on victims in this case, but also victims that haven’t come forward yet.

“There are victim survivors out there who are watching to see if it is a safe community to speak out and say that they want help,” she said. “Even the news being on at times and hearing these stories can be a trigger to a survivor and take them back to their own experience and what their trauma is and what they need to do to process through it.”

Casey said the community can support victims during this time by listening to and believing them, being sensitive and having important conversations about what abuse and trafficking looks like.

The group says the best way to help survivors and prevent future victims is through education.

“There is so much misinformation about trafficking and how it affects kids that we believe that with this case it has brought to the forefront that education needs to focus on this,” Pulley said.

Fierce Freedom is hoping to get involved with the School District of Altoona.

Superintendent Dr. Heidi Eliopoulos said as the case against Peggs moves forward, students and staff who need it are encouraged to utilize the school’s mental health services.

If you or someone you know is the victim of human trafficking you can reach out to the National Human Trafficking Hotline at 888-373-7888. Locally, you can call or text Fierce Freedom at 715-828-6040. The Family Support Center also offers resources to survivors of human trafficking, domestic violence and sexual assault. For help or more information, call 715-723-1138.

Copyright 2021 WEAU. All rights reserved.