Pubdate: Thu, 04 Aug 2011
Source: San Francisco Examiner (CA)
Copyright: 2011 SF Newspaper Company LLC
Author: Ari Burack, Examiner Staff Writer


DA says evidence was not good enough to convict Dennis

Child pornography and drug possession charges against gay activist and
medical marijuana guru Dennis Peron were dismissed Wednesday after
prosecutors admitted the evidence against him was weak.

A year ago today, police raided the bed and breakfast where Peron
lives, seizing suspected methamphetamine, Ecstasy and marijuana and
computers they said contained images of child pornography.

In June, prosecutors were ordered to make a seized computer hard drive
available for defense examination, but as of Wednesday Peron's team
had not received it.

At a hearing Wednesday at which prosecutors were expected to explain
the delay, Assistant District Attorney Leslie Cogan told Superior
Court Judge Gerardo Sandoval that all charges were dismissed.

"After completing further investigation," Cogan said, "the people have
determined that we are unable to sustain our burden of proof."

Peron's attorney David Wilton suggested that prosecutors dismissed his
client's case "because they have a cop problem."

The case was investigated by officers from the Police Department's
juvenile crimes unit and Mission Station. Several of the cops from the
Mission have been accused by Public Defender Jeff Adachi of
involvement in the theft of valuables from suspects during drug raids.

They and other officers accused of illegal entry and falsifying police
reports are still under federal investigation and have not been
charged. However, prosecutors have dismissed more than 100 cases
because of officer credibility issues.

District Attorney's Office spokeswoman Erica Derryck said Peron's case
was dismissed due to "additional investigation" that included computer
forensic evidence.

Derryck said the child pornography charges were the primary part of
the case against Peron, and if he only had been charged with drug
possession, her office would have dismissed those at the time of the
misconduct allegations.

The 66-year-old Peron said after the hearing that police have been
after him for years because of his advocacy for gay rights and medical

"There was no case," Peron said after the hearing. "It was only
designed to tarnish my name. Kiddie porn, that's the worst thing you
can accuse someone of."

The computer was located in a guest room, and Peron adamantly denied
he downloaded the images, saying that he doesn't enjoy pornography and
noting that, as a gay man, girls don't interest him anyway. He also
claimed the confiscated drugs were not his.

His lawyer said he was allowed to view the 33 images on Peron's
computer in the presence of police, and most were of girls. Some were
pictures of "fully clothed" children, some were not illicit, and "some
of it was potentially what they said it was," he said.

However, Wilton added, "We've always said from the beginning that
Dennis did not have sole access to that computer."

As to Peron's allegations that San Francisco police were targeting
Peron because of his political stands, Derryck responded that "the
child pornography case initially came to our attention because of an
investigation by law enforcement from out of state."

Nonetheless, Peron said he's now thinking of suing the Police

"They dragged me through the mud, and now I'm going to make them pay
for  it," he said. 
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