Judge to decide if former teacher should be released on bond

Former teacher William Richard Pryor is currently in federal custody charged with transportation of minors with intent of sexual activity. (Photo source: Stone Co. Correctional Facility)
Former teacher William Richard Pryor is currently in federal custody charged with transportation of minors with intent of sexual activity. (Photo source: Stone Co. Correctional Facility)

GULFPORT, MS (WLOX) - A judge will once again have to decide if veteran South Mississippi teacher accused of molesting students should be let out of jail. William Richard Pryor's attorney appealed a federal judge's decision to deny Pryor bond stating several reasons. Now the United States Attorney's Office is fighting back to again ask that Pryor not be let out on bond.

Pryor is accused of Transportation of Minors with Intent to Engage in Criminal Sexual Conduct. A little more than two weeks ago, a judge ruled there is no condition of bond that would assure the safety of the community if Pryor is let out of jail. Pryor's defense is now fighting back asking that decision be overruled.

At the last hearing, an FBI agent took the stand and told a judge investigators have found a total of 11 alleged male victims. All attended Bayou View Middle School where Pryor taught. The alleged molestation occurred between 1973 and 2005 when the young boys were between the ages of 12 and 14.

The agent also said Pryor told officials they would find child pornography on his computer. The computer is at the FBI crime lab being searched; if pornography is found, Pryor could face more charges.

Reasons Pryor's attorney argued to allow Pryor out on bond:

During the detention hearing Pryor's attorney asked the FBI agent on the stand to give the defense his notes, but the prosecution objected and the judge ruled in their favor. Pryor's attorney argues those notes denied Pryor his right to effectively cross examine and confront the witness testifying against him.

Pryor's attorney also said Pryor's sister was willing to act as a custodian to ensure Pryor would comply with bond if allowed.

The probation officer testified at the hearing she did not consider Pryor a flight risk.

No new evidence of any violations of criminal conduct within the last nine years.

No adverse info in Pryor's employee record with the Gulfport School District or the Catholic Diocese.

Pryor is 68 and in poor physical health.

Pryor has strong family and community ties, having lived in Gulfport since 1968.

Pryor does not have the financial resources to facilitate his ability to flee.

Pryor has no criminal history.

Pryor has no history of alcohol or drug abuse.

The Government's Response to appeal of detention

The United States District Attorney believes Pryor poses a danger to others and the community and states that was strongly supported by the evidence and testimony in the detention hearing and asked the judge again to deny bond.

The defense was not entitled to the FBI agent's notes. The US District Attorney argues the agent gave enough probable cause that the defendant committed the crimes.

"Nothing that is now available in the final reports provides any reason to conclude the outcome of the hearing would have been different had the reports or underlying notes been produced."

Also the government argues the judge's decision was the correct one under the protect act which requires crimes, such as those alleged, were one of the several crimes against children which impose a rebuttal presumption against pretrial release.

The probation officer said she testified she did not consider Pryor to be a flight risk, but did say he is considered a danger to others and the community.

No word yet on when a judge will make a ruling on the appeal to allow Pryor out on bond. The case is still awaiting a grand jury decision before anything else can be done.

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