A former Harris County sheriff’s deputy was sentenced to 17 years in prison, eight to serve Thursday afternoon on a sexual assault conviction by Superior Court Judge Bobby Peters.
Peters also required Pierson to register as a sex offender.
Pierson was convicted on Aug. 30 on two counts of sexual assault on a person in custody related to one of three traffic stops that were the subject of the eight-day trial. He faced up to 25 years in prison for each of those convictions. He was also convicted on six additional charges, on which Peters said the sentences, ranging from 12 months to five years, would be served concurrently to the sexual assault charges.
The judge was stern and did not mince words when he handed down the sentence.
“I have a different take on it,” said Peters, a former Muscogee County sheriff’s deputy. “It is not one incident of having sex with one lady while on duty. It was a pattern.”
Peters admonished Pierson for his behavior while on duty.
“That was his access,” Peters said of the traffic stops. “He abused his power.”
The woman whom Pierson admitted performed oral sex on him on Valentine’s Day 2016 was clear in her victim’s statement that she was the victim of a sexual assault.
“I was sexually assaulted on the highway in broad daylight on the side of the road in Harris County,” the woman said. “And I was verbally assaulted on the witness stand.”
Pierson apologized to all three women by name.
“I did not act appropriately and I am responsible for my actions,” he told the court.
About 50 Pierson family members and friends packed the left side of the courtroom, sitting behind the defendant. He broke down apologizing to them.
“I am so sorry,” he said.
He talked off the cuff without a prepared statement. He said he grew up in the church.
“I was raised to be a better man than I have been,” he said.
He struggled to get the words out as he spoke directly to Peters.
“I have talked to my family and they know how sorry I am,” Pierson said. “My wife has stayed with me and I am eternally grateful to her. I will spend the rest of my life trying to make this up to her.”
He also apologized to Harris County Sheriff Mike Jolley, who was not in the courtroom.
“It is the worst I have ever behaved in my life and not a representation of who I am,” he said.
Assistant District Attorney Bill Lisenby Jr. said the graphic testimony and videos presented during the eight-day trial revealed Pierson’s true character.
“Mr. Pierson was, in fact, a predator with a bridge,” Lisenby said. “… Fortunately, these women had the courage to come forward and go through a trial.”
Lisenby asked Peters to sentence Pierson to 25 years in prison, to serve 15. He also asked that Pierson is required to register as a sex offender. Defense attorney Bernard S. Brody asked for probation, but the judge made it clear he did not consider this a probation case.
Pierson was acquitted of the most serious charge, aggravated sodomy, in which a woman claimed he forced her to perform oral sex during that traffic stop.
He was facing the possibility of life in prison if convicted on the aggravated sodomy charge. He could still face between 1 and 25 years in prison on the each of the sexual assault on a person in custody charges. Whatever the sentence, the judge has the option to stack the sentences or run the terms concurrently.
Brody said that Pierson’s crimes that he was convicted of were not as serious as the ones he was convicted. The attorney repeatedly referred to the sexual encounter as consensual.
“It is hard to separate what he was accused of and what he was convicted of but they are two separate things,” Brody said.
The judge took exception to that.
“If a person is in custody and you got a gun and total control, they can not give consent,” Peters said.