Friday, January 26, 2007

Accused Child Molester Waives Hearing

A man accused of molesting four boys at a Half Moon Bay martial arts studio remained free for more than two weeks after the accusations because prosecutors wanted Half Moon Bay police to gather more evidence.

Joao Pierini, 35, was arrested on Jan. 4 - 20 days after four boys came forward with allegations that he had touched them inappropriately. Pierini now faces eight misdemeanor charges and one felony count, including contributing to the delinquency of a minor, annoying a child under 18 and lewd and lascivious behavior, according to the San Mateo County district attorney's office.

Pierini has waived his right to a preliminary hearing and entered a not-guilty plea to the charges. Pierini remained in custody Tuesday, in lieu of $500,000 bail, and will return to court for a Feb. 2 arraignment.

According to investigators, on Dec. 15 Pierini ran into the four juveniles at the Starbucks coffee shop in Strawflower Village and invited them back to drink beer at his studio, located at 2830 N. Cabrillo Highway.

During the visit, Pierini reportedly gave inappropriate massages to each of the juveniles and fondled the genitals of one boy. The boys reported the incident to a parent who told Half Moon Bay police on Dec. 16, said Steve Wagstaffe, deputy district attorney for San Mateo County.

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