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UPDATE: Community reacts to arrest of Altoona School Superintendent

(WEAU)
Published: Feb. 20, 2020 at 10:12 AM CST
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Altoona School District Superintendent Dan Peggs is arrested and charged with production of child pornography and sex trafficking of a minor.

In a federal indictment from the U.S. Department of Justice, Peggs is accused of recruiting and trafficking a minor for sex acts from October 2015 to May 2016 and creating a child pornography video involving that minor in December 2015.

Altoona Police arrested Peggs while he was on his way to school in a traffic stop on 10th Street just before 7:00 a.m. Thursday morning.

Peggs pleaded not guilty to both charges in his first appearance in U.S. District Court in Madison Thursday afternoon.

Altoona Police Chief Kelly Bakken says she was made aware of the federal indictment on Friday of last week by the Division of Criminal Investigation. She says the investigation began with a “delayed report” from the victim.

The victim was between the ages of 14 and 18 when the alleged incidents happened. Assistant U.S. Attorney Julie Pfluger said after court that the alleged victim is from Wisconsin and the alleged acts occurred within Wisconsin. The victim was not a student at the Altoona School District.

Students and parents from the Altoona School District were notified of the arrest via email around 10:00 a.m. on Thursday. Bakken says police have been working closely with the school district since the arrest.

“The safety of the students and the community are what's at the forefront of this and are ultimately what we are trying to do is protect them,” Bakken says. ”We have a very good relationship with the Altoona school district we plan to keep them informed as much as we are able to about what we know in regards to the situation.”

Peggs’ arrest has left many people in the community with questions. Numerous parents, current and former students say they are shocked and disgusted by the allegations. The Altoona School Board held an emergency meeting at noon on Thursday followed by a press conference to address those questions along with the next steps for the school district.

At the press conference Altoona School board President Robin Elvig announced that Mike Markgren will be the acting Superintendent until the investigation is complete. If Peggs is released from custody he will immediately be placed on administrative leave and not be allowed on school property.

Altoona School District will have counseling available to students and parents.

“The students handled it very well. As been said previously we have numerous counselors on site, real living is coming in. We've also heard from around the area that today, tomorrow, and Monday that if we need to borrow their guidance counselors, their guidance counselors are happy to come down to our students and help,” says Altoona High School Principal Jim Reif.

Peggs has worked at the school district since 2016 and became Superintendent in 2019. Peggs previously worked at Chippewa Falls Middle School from 2010 to 2014 as a seventh grade science teacher and at Gilman High School as principal from 2014 to 2016. District officials at both school districts say they were shocked when they heard the news and had positive experiences working with Peggs.

Peggs was principal at Gilman High School during the time of these alleged crimes.

Peggs remains in Dane County Jail and is scheduled to appear in court on Monday at 1:00 p.m. for a possible home release.

If convicted, Peggs faces between 10 years to life in federal prison for the sex trafficking charge and between 15 and 30 years in federal prison for the child pornography charge.

Bakken says there are no other known victims at this time and no other community members are believed to be involved but the investigation is ongoing. Anyone with information is asked to contact their local law enforcement.


During the news conference, Robin Elvig, Altoona School Board President said they have appointed Michael Markgren as acting superintendent for during the investigation.

Elvig also said if Peggs is released on Monday, he will be placed on administrative leave.

Students at Altoona High School were pulled into an assembly Thursday morning where they were given the news of the investigation.

District officials say they are making resources available, which include counseling.


ALTOONA, Wis. (WEAU,NEWS RELEASE)--Altoona Superintendent Daniel Peggs has appeared in federal court Thursday in Madison. Peggs pleaded not guilty to sex trafficking of a minor under 18 and over 14 as well as production of child pornography with the same victim.

The court ordered to hold Peggs until Monday, Feb. 24 at 1 p.m. The court says they will need to do a home visit to see if he can be released.

Altoona Police Chief Kelly Bakken says the initial report was delayed , saying the incident started in 2015. The victim came forward to law enforcement and provided information that prompted the investigation.

Officials say they arrested Peggs Thursday morning just before 7 a.m. on 10th Street in Altoona on a traffic stop.

Bakken also says at this point she is not aware of any other community members being involved and noted that he was cooperative during his arrest.

The Altoona School District say they will be holding a news conference at 4 p.m.

WEAU plans to take the conference live on our website. We will also have team coverage on our evening newscasts.


ALTOONA, Wis. (WEAU,NEWS RELEASE)--Altoona Superintendent, 32-year-old Daniel Peggs, has been arrested Thursday on a federal warrant. Peggs has been charged with sex trafficking a minor and production of child pornography, according to the U.S. Department of Justice.

The DOJ says the allegations date back to October 2015 through May 2016 and say Peggs recruited and maintained an individual knowing that they were a minor and would be caused to engage in a commercial sex act. The allegations also include that in December 2015 Peggs “used the minor to engage in sexually explicit conduct for the purpose of producing a visual depiction of the conduct”.

The federal indictment says Peggs used an iPhone to produce a video of the minor engaging in sexually explicit conduct.

U.S. Attorney Scott Blader says the incident does not involve a student from the Altoona School District. Blader says if convicted, Peggs faces a mandatory minimum penalty of 10 years and a maximum of life in federal prison on the sex trafficking a minor charge.

The school district says they are working with the school board to look at their next steps. They are also working with the Altoona Police Department to make sure students are safe.

The investigation was part of Project Safe Childhood, a nationwide initiative to combat child sexual exploitation and abuse.

WEAU spoke with the School District of Gilman Superintendent Walter Leipart who says Dan Peggs was employed at the school district during the time of the allegations listed on the indictment.

Leipart says to the best of the school district’s knowledge the indictment does not involve any adults or minors from Gilman. He also says Peggs has no current affiliation or connection to the School District of Gilman and they have not been contacted by law enforcement.

Prior working to Gilman, Peggs was a science teacher at Chippewa Falls Middle School.

The Chippewa Falls Area Unified School District says they have no reason to believe the allegations involved any students at a Chippewa school.

Peggs started with the CFAUSD on June, 17 2010. He started working as a seventh grade science teacher at Chippewa Falls Middle School on Aug. 25, 2010 before resigning on June, 13 2014 to take an administrative position with another district (Gilman School District).

To read the full indictment and DOJ release, click the links under related documents on the right.


ALTOONA, Wis. (NEWS RELEASE)--Scott C. Blader, United States Attorney for the Western District of Wisconsin, and Wisconsin Attorney General Josh Kaul announced today the unsealing of an indictment charging an Altoona man with sex trafficking of a minor and production of child pornography.

Daniel Peggs, 32, was charged in an indictment returned by a federal grand jury sitting in Madison on February 12, 2020. The indictment was unsealed today following Peggs’ arrest. Peggs is the Superintendent of the Altoona School District.

The indictment alleges that from October 2015 through May 2016, Peggs recruited and maintained an individual knowing that the individual was a minor and would be caused to engage in a commercial sex act. The indictment also alleges that in December 2015, Peggs used the minor to engage in sexually explicit conduct for the purpose of producing a visual depiction of the conduct. Specifically, the indictment alleges that Peggs used an iPhone to produce a video of the child pornography.

According to United States Attorney Blader, the conduct Peggs is charged with does not involve a student from the Altoona School District.

Peggs was arrested today in Altoona. He will be brought to Madison for an initial appearance before Magistrate Judge Stephen L. Crocker in U.S. District Court at 1:30 p.m.

If convicted, Peggs faces a mandatory minimum penalty of 10 years and a maximum of life in federal prison on the sex trafficking a minor charge. The production of child pornography charge carries a mandatory minimum penalty of 15 years and a maximum of 30 years.

The charges against Peggs are the result of an investigation by the Wisconsin Department of Justice Division of Criminal Investigation, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations, and the North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation. The Altoona Police Department assisted during Peggs’ arrest today. Assistant U.S. Attorney Julie Pfluger is handling the prosecution.

This investigation was a part of Project Safe Childhood, a nationwide initiative to combat child sexual exploitation and abuse. Project Safe Childhood marshals federal, state, and local resources to better locate, apprehend, and prosecute individuals who exploit children via the Internet, as well as to identify and rescue victims.

The Altoona School District sent an email to school district families saying:

We have been informed by local police that this morning around 7:00 am, Superintendent Dan Peggs was arrested and was indicted on federal charges of sex trafficking and production of child pornography.

An investigation is taking place with federal and local law enforcement agencies. At this time we are unaware of any Altoona students being involved.

The Altoona School District administration is working with the school board to look at our next steps.

Student safety, as always, is our number one priority. We will continue to work with Chief Bakken and local law enforcement to be sure that students are safe.

Because this is a police matter, we are unable to comment further. We will continue to focus on the education and well being of our students and community. We realize this is a tremendous shock to the Altoona community. We appreciate your cooperation as we provide our best for our students.

All questions concerning the investigation by law enforcement should be directed to the Altoona Police Department.

We will continue to update you as to how the district will move forward. Questions regarding the operations of the school district of Altoona should be directed to Mr. Markgren.

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