A recent plea deal in a child molestation case has set off a storm of controversy in the GOP primary for the 8th Circuit Solicitor race, where incumbent Solicitor Jerry Peace's decision to cut a deal has generated a great deal of criticism, including from a national expert who declared "the handling of this case was highly irregular and troubling", as well as the family of the victim i the case.
This is the latest in a race which has turned into a heated battle between the incumbent and supporters of David Stumbo, a veteran prosecutor who has worked both in the state Attorney General's office as well as an assistant solicitor in the 11th Circuit.
Allegations have been made that Peace's office mishandled the case regarding Norman Keesee, a former music minister accused of molesting a child with cerebral palsy during music lessons. Keesee pled guilty to First Degree Assault and Battery (a non-sexual offense) and was given five years of probation and required to register as a sex offender. While it was indicated that the victim's family agreed to the sentence, a post-trial media interview indicated the family was blindsided in the courtroom on the day of the sentencing and disagreed strongly with the plea deal which was reached by Peace's office.