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Hearing waived by former child advocate employee

The Morgantown woman accused of distribution of materials depicting minors engaged in sexually explicit conduct waived her right to a preliminary hearing scheduled for Monday morning in Monongalia County Magistrate Court.

The case will now be transferred to Monongalia County Circuit Court.

West Virginia State Police was notified of an image allegedly uploaded by Jessica Joelle Pepper, 25, of Morgantown, to the social media and instant-messaging platform Discord on Aug. 23. According to court documents, the image depicted a pre-pubescent female exposed and in a sexual situation.

The criminal complaint states when police interviewed Pepper, she 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.”

Pepper also told police she worked with the Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA For Kids) Program of Monongalia and Preston counties. According to a statement released last week by CASA, Pepper has been let go from the program and the organization is not aware of any children assigned to CASA in West Virginia who were impacted.

She was released from custody after posting bail.

Pepper’s cell phone and laptop were seized and sent to the West Virginia State Police Digital Forensics Lab for analysis, according to the criminal complaint. Additional charges may be added pending results of the digital forensic analysis.

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