The Robert Kastenmeier U.S. Courthouse in Madison, WI (Photo by Julian Emerson)
The Robert Kastenmeier U.S. Courthouse in Madison, WI (Photo by Julian Emerson)

Altoona superintendent will stay at a residence in Dane County

The superintendent of the Altoona school district who faces federal sex trafficking charges was released on a signature bond Monday, and he will be confined to living at a residence in Dane County where he will be supervised while the case against him proceeds.

Daniel Peggs, 32, appeared in U.S. District Court in Madison, where Judge Stephen Crocker approved his release plan. Peggs, who began working as Altoona school superintendent in July, pleaded not guilty on Thursday to charges of sex trafficking of a minor and making child pornography. He was arrested that morning on his way to school in the community just east of Eau Claire.

As part of his release, Peggs must comply with what Crocker termed “a boatload of conditions,” among them his confinement to an agreed upon residence at all times and requiring court permission to speak with his own children or any minors. Oftentimes people facing sex-trafficking charges are not released, Crocker said. 

Peggs also is prohibited from using computers and social media, and he cannot be on school grounds. The list of bond conditions and the location of the residence where Peggs will reside was not released to the media. Two sources with knowledge of the case indicate the residence is in the Dane County community of Oregon, south of Madison.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Julie Pfluger agreed to conditions of Peggs’ release plan, calling those conditions “pretty routine.” Pfluger said during the hearing that authorities are aware of multiple fake social media accounts that Peggs has used.

The decision to place Peggs on supervised release occurred in part because his alleged activities involving the girl occurred about four years ago, Pfluger indicated. The girl involved in the case turned 18 in mid-2016, Pfluger said, and Peggs has had continued contact with her. 

His activities with the girl since she turned 18 did not constitute a crime, Pfluger said.  

Peggs’ next court date has not yet been scheduled.  

The indictment against Peggs alleges that between October 2015 and May 2016 he recruited and maintained an underage girl, referred to as “Jane Doe 1” in the indictment, for the purpose of having her engage in a commercial sex act. Peggs also is accused of forcing the girl to engage in a sexually explicit act that was recorded on an iPhone in December 2015.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office said the girl is from Wisconsin but did not attend the Altoona school district. The indictment does not specify where the incidents involving Peggs and the girl occurred.

Peggs worked as middle and high school principal, and as athletic director, in the Gilman school district from 2014 to 2016, the time period authorities say the crimes for which he is charged happened.

Peggs’ arrest has a connection to North Carolina, where on Thursday Bryan Lee Ragon, 43, of Charlotte, N.C., was arrested and charged with sex trafficking of a minor and producing child pornography, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Western Wisconsin. Ragon also is charged with transporting a minor and receipt of child pornography, records show. 

News releases about Peggs’ and Ragon’s indictments show that in the same month — December 2015 — Peggs is accused of using an iPhone to record the girl in a sexually explicit act, Ragon is accused of receiving child pornography images.

Ragon appeared in federal court in Charlotte on Thursday and remains in federal custody.