Cops and Courts

Hearing for former court advocacy office worker set for Monday

The former CASA for Kids office staff member accused of distribution of materials depicting minors engaged in sexually explicit conduct is scheduled for a preliminary hearing Monday morning in Monongalia County Magistrate Court.

Jessica Joelle Pepper, 25, of Morgantown, was let go from the Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) following her arrest, according to a statement released from the group last week. The group also stated that while the investigation is ongoing, they are currently not aware of any children assigned to CASA in West Virginia who were impacted.

State police were notified by the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children of an image uploaded to the social media and instant messaging platform Discord on Aug. 23. That image depicted a prepubescent female exposed and in a sexual situation, according to the criminal complaint.

Law enforcement was able to obtain the IP address associated with the upload as well as the phone number associated with the Discord account, leading them to Pepper.

On Oct. 4, police executed a search warrant at Pepper’s Wildwood Street apartment, seizing an iPhone and a laptop computer, court documents say.

When interviewed on scene by police, Pepper allegedly confirmed she had “downloaded and sent images of child pornography multiple times via Discord” and that she “repeatedly saved images of child pornography before sending them.”

Additional charges may be added after the items seized from Pepper’s residence have gone through digital forensic analysis at the West Virginia State Police Digital Forensics Lab, the complaint reads.

Pepper was released from custody after posting a $25,000 bond. Her next hearing is scheduled for 10:30 a.m. Monday before Magistrate Judge Timothy Pocius.

In similar, but unrelated news, Granville Police arrested a Morgantown man Thursday for soliciting sex from a minor via computer.

Arrest records state that an undercover officer was portraying a 15-year-old via online chat when they were contacted by Christopher Paul Rose, 47, of Morgantown.

In the report, police say Rose was informed in the chat that he was chatting with a 15-year-old female, but he still allegedly arranged to meet the girl in person to have sexual contact.

Arrangements were made for Rose to meet the girl Oct. 19 in Granville, according to the complaint. He was apprehended as he was walking to the predetermined location.

Rose is currently being held at North Central Regional Jail on $50,000 bond. He is scheduled to appear in court on Oct. 30.