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Plea agreement accepted for Dan Peggs; sentencing scheduled for November

Published: Aug. 20, 2021 at 11:59 AM CDT
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MADISON, Wis. (WEAU) - A U.S. District Court Judge conditionally accepted a plea agreement for former School District of Altoona superintendent Dan Peggs in the Western District of Wisconsin U.S. District Court Friday morning.

Peggs pleaded guilty to one count of possession of child pornography. The plea deal dismisses the more serious charges Peggs faced, including sex trafficking a minor and production of child pornography.

Judge James Peterson accepted the plea agreement conditionally based on the pre-sentencing report, in which he is expecting to learn more details of the case. The report is due in mid-October.

A sentencing hearing is scheduled for November 19. Peggs faces a maximum of ten years in prison and a fine of up to $250,000.

As part of the agreement, Peggs waives the right to appeal and the right to a jury trial. He also faces between five years and a lifetime under supervision once released from prison and Judge Peterson may order him to pay restitution.

Under oath Friday morning, Peggs admitted to having a pornographic image of a 17-year-old victim with whom he had an on-going sexual relationship. He said he was unaware of her age at the time he received the image, but kept it after learning the truth.

However in a letter to the judge, the victim wrote that she and Peggs had many conversations about her being underage. The victim chose not to speak in court Friday.

Earlier this week, Dan Pegg’s federal defense attorney, Joe Bugni wrote a letter to the judge with concern over a “letter writing campaign” “spearheaded” by Pegg’s ex-wife, Ashley.

In her blog, Parenting with Principle, Ashley Peggs, has asked her family and friends to write to Judge Peterson asking for the maximum sentence for her ex-husband.

Bugni wrote Ashley does not qualify as a crime victim in this case, writing her grievances should rather be aired in custody proceedings in state court.

In the letter Bugni wrote, “While Ms. Peggs has every right to privately (and publicly) disparage Peggs as a crummy husband, she doesn’t have the right to stand in court cloaked as a victim and exercise a victim’s rights.”

Ashley fired back in a letter to the judge Friday morning. She wrote in part:

“As for ‘standing in court cloaked as a victim’ I am physically sickened by such a statement. I do not claim to be the ‘victim’ and have often spoken about how heartbroken I am for her and what she has endured. I do know though that there are many people that have been impacted in this case. I think of the stunned looks on the school board as they heard the news, I reflect on the students and staff that invested trust in him as a prominent ‘safe’ figure in the school, and I look at my four girls faces each day and my heart breaks for the impact this has and will continue to have on them.”

Records show 25 sealed letters have been submitted to the courts regarding Peggs’ sentencing.

Friday morning, Judge Peterson addressed the crowded courtroom acknowledging the public interest in the case. He said he has started to and plans to continue reading each letter he receives up until the sentencing.

With three months until the sentencing, Peggs will remain released under several conditions set by the judge. Sentencing is scheduled for 1:30 p.m. on November 19.

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