ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

Authorities say deputy U.S. marshal in ND may have been serial peeping Tom

BISMARCK--Authorities say the deputy U.S. marshal accused of peeping on a 16-year-old girl at Target recorded young girls at several other stores in Bismarck.

2621033+Marshal Peeper.jpg
Michael Rivera

BISMARCK-Authorities say the deputy U.S. marshal accused of peeping on a 16-year-old girl at Target recorded young girls at several other stores in Bismarck.

"This isn't just a couple of pictures," said Burleigh County Assistant State's Attorney Julie Lawyer at an initial court appearance for Michael Rivera on 20 new charges. "It appears wherever he goes, he does behavior like this."

A complaint filed in the case alleges the 29-year-old law enforcement officer used a cellphone camera to record under the doors of changing rooms at numerous clothing stores, including several at the Kirkwood Mall. The 19 victims identified by their initials in the complaint range in age from 12 to 33 years old.

Rivera worked for the U.S. Marshals Office for about a year prior to his initial arrest, according to Paul Ward, U.S. Marshal for the District of North Dakota. He was suspended immediately after he was detained, and then put on an indefinite, unpaid suspension 10 days later.

The charges filed in South Central District Court all arise from alleged activity in the Bismarck area over the last year, but the police affidavit accuses Rivera engaging in similar conduct over the last three years in Chicago, Miami, Minneapolis, Jacksonville, Florida, and Brunswick, Georgia.

ADVERTISEMENT

He also is accused of possessing hundreds of images and videos of child sexual exploitation on his computer.

The new charges arose from examination of a laptop seized from Rivera's apartment.

Collectively, Rivera is charged in the new case with six counts of attempting to promote a sexual performance by a minor, four counts of promoting sexual performance by a minor, one count of possession of prohibited materials, six counts of surreptitious intrusion, one count of creation or possession of sexually expressive image and two counts of attempting to create or possess a sexually expressive image.

Lawyer said the state was unaware of the additional evidence when Rivera was charged with a single count of attempt to promote a sexual performance by a minor in June. He was allowed to stay with his mother in Chicago in the interim.

South Central District Judge David Reich raised Rivera's bond from $2,000 to $150,000 because of the additional allegations.

Rivera's attorney, Lloyd Suhr, had argued for a lower bond in the case, raising concerns about Rivera's safety as a federal law enforcement officer held in a jail with federal prisoners.

Lawyer said he would be transferred to a facility without federal prisoners and where he could be held in a single cell.

In addition to formal charging in the new case, Rivera had a probable cause hearing on the case from June. He pleaded not guilty.

ADVERTISEMENT

During the hearing, Bismarck Police Detective Brandon Rask testified that a 16-year-old girl reported to police that she saw a cell phone on the floor of her dressing room as she tried on a bathing suit at Target. She saw the phone disappear and a large male retreat into a dressing room. Rask said he identified Rivera through surveillance footage and later found video of the teen on Rivera's computer.

Suhr argued that the charges filed by the state in the first case didn't match up with the facts.

"This is a peeping Tom pattern of facts charged as child porn," Suhr said.

Reich found probable cause in the case regardless, saying Suhr's argument would be better reserved for a motion.

Reich set a trial date for the initial case for Nov. 30. If the cases are joined, trial on both could be postponed.

Related Topics: NORTH DAKOTA
What To Read Next
Neil Joseph Pfeifer was released Friday, Feb. 3, on $5,000 cash bail.
State lawmakers hear from both sides as parents and educators weigh in on the potential impact of the bill
“We see that when things happen in the coastal areas, a few years later, they start trending toward the Midwest,” said Rep. Ben Krohmer, serving his first term in the House.
Stark County prosecutors prepare for pretrial conferences and jury trials scheduled for March