Houston & Peach

Kathleen man says boys made up molestation story against him

PERRY -- A Kathleen man accused of molesting three teenage boys in the summer of 2011 steadfastly denied the allegations against him Wednesday, including under often intense questioning by a prosecutor.

Matthew Caleb Pierce, 35, is on trial in Houston County Superior court on multiple counts of aggravated child molestation and related charges. His pastor and family members prayed with him in the hallway shortly before he took the witness stand.

Pierce, who owned Matthew Caleb Salon in Centerville, repeatedly denied engaging in sexual acts with the teenagers or giving them alcohol or prescription drugs for any reason, including in exchange for sexual acts or a texted photograph of the private parts of one of the boys.

Dressed in a dark suit with a green tie, Pierce would often shake his head and look at jurors while being questioned by Assistant District Attorney Clif Woody.

Pierce told jurors he believed the teenage boys, all 14 at that time, made up allegations against him because they were either afraid of getting in trouble with the authorities or angry that they had been run off from his apartment at one time or another.

Family and friends of Pierce testified that they often gathered at Pierce’s apartment. Most talked about encounters in which one or more of the teenagers showed up at the apartment and were ordered to leave. Two of Pierce’s brothers testified that one of the boys was told to leave after first asking for Pierce and then asking for the anxiety medication Xanax.

None testifying saw Pierce give any of the teenagers alcohol or drugs.

In earlier testimony Wednesday, one of the teenagers told jurors that he traded sexual acts with Pierce for prescription drugs.

The teenager testified that Pierce gave him more than 30 prescription pills in exchange for sexual acts the morning of July 9, 2011.

“Xanax makes you do things you’d never do sober,” the teenager, now 18, told jurors.

Most of the pills were Xanax, and two were the pain medication Dilaudid, he said.

The teenager said he was later leaving the apartment complex on his scooter when a sheriff’s deputy stopped him. The deputy searched him with his permission and found the pills. The deputy, who lived in the complex, worked as a courtesy officer there and patrolled the grounds.

The teenager testified under cross examination by Pierce’s attorney, Franklin J. Hogue of Macon, that he asked the deputy and those working at the apartment complex to allow him to flush the drugs down the toilet and let him go.

But the deputy told him that wasn’t possible and called police.

When in the back of the patrol car, the teenager first told authorities that he got the prescription drugs in exchange for sexual acts, he said.

The teenager said he was shackled and held at the Perry police station to be interviewed.

He did not dispute the written statements he made to police that Hogue read aloud to jurors, such as, “The reason I’m telling you this is I don’t need (these) felonies.”

The teenager was not charged in connection to the pills.

On follow-up questions by Woody, the teenager said he was not offered a deal by authorities, and he did not lie about what happened.

The teenager’s statement resulted in the questioning of his friends. Through tears and sobs, one of those friends told of alleged sexual acts with Pierce while under the influence of alcohol in a videotaped interview with an investigator for the sheriff’s juvenile division. But on the witness stand, the teenager said he could not remember what happened in Pierce’s bedroom four years ago.

Hogue sought unsuccessfully to prevent the jury from seeing the video because he was not able to question the accusing teenager since the teenager said he could not remember. Presiding Judge Katherine K. Lumsden also denied Hogue’s motion for a mistrial on the grounds that Pierce’s right to confront his accusers was violated by introduction of the video.

Pierce was the last person to testify Wednesday. Jurors are expected to hear closing arguments from attorneys Thursday and instructions from the judge on charges they will consider before beginning deliberations.

To contact writer Becky Purser, call 256-9559.