NYS Justice Kevin Carter to Decide Pigeon’s Motion to Disqualify DA Flynn for ‘Bias,’ ‘Animosity,’ in Child Rape Prosecution

Editor’s Note: I have been Steve Pigeon’s friend for more than 20 years. In December 2021, he was charged with raping a child, perhaps the most despicable of all offenses. I believe he is innocent. 

NY State Supreme Court Justice Kevin M. Carter presided over oral arguments on April 11, 2023, in a case involving G. Steven Pigeon, charged with the rape of a child under the age of 11.

Justice Carter is the administrative judge of Western New York’s Eighth Judicial District.

Justice Carter heard from Pigeon’s attorney, James Nobles, and the Erie County District Attorney’s office regarding the possible disqualification of District Attorney John Flynn and the appointment of a special prosecutor.

On December 2, 2021, District Attorney Flynn announced charges against Pigeon for first-degree rape, first-degree criminal sexual act, first-degree sexual abuse, and predatory sexual assault against a child under 11 years old.

The charges stem from a single incident that allegedly occurred between November-December 2016. At Pigeon’s bail hearing, the prosecution revealed the alleged victim was a family member. Pigeon has no children. The trial for Pigeon is scheduled for December.

Political History of DA Flynn and Pigeon

Pigeon’s attorney, James Nobles, argued for the disqualification of Flynn, claiming the prosecutor harbored “actual prejudice and animosity.”

According to Nobles, Pigeon, a former political heavyweight, had a long history with Flynn.

Nobles alleges Pigeon blocked Flynn from various positions, appointments and endorsements between 2003 and 2015, including ending Flynn’s candidacy for DA the first time he ran in 2008.

Flynn had to wait eight years before he could run again and win the office he now holds.

The 2008 DA Race

The 2008 Democratic primary for Erie County DA featured a heated contest between Flynn, Kenneth Case, and Frank Sedita, III.

Pigeon’s attorney Nobles wrote in a court filing, “Flynn enjoyed support from the Executive Board of the Erie County Democratic Committee. Pigeon helped secure the Conservative and Independence endorsements for Sedita. This prompted the Democratic Committee to back Sedita, since without the minor party lines, a Democrat might lose to the Republican opponent in the general election if another Democrat was on the ballot.”

After Pigeon secured the minor party lines for his candidate, Flynn dropped out of the race.

Erie County District Attorney John Flynn

Assistant District Attorney Cathleen Roemer defended Flynn against Pigeon’s disqualification motion.

ADA Cathleen Roemer, defending her boss, wrote in a court filing: “The assertions that the defendant chose to back another candidate or ‘block’ John Flynn… may or may not be true, but regardless, John Flynn would not have knowledge of political work the defendant was doing behind the scenes, and therefore he cannot be biased by the defendant’s alleged actions.”

While Flynn might not have known about Pigeon’s key role in the 2008 DA race, the Buffalo News was aware. On September 27, 2009, the Buffalo News reported, “Pigeon also helped elect Sedita as district attorney by helping him obtain the Conservative Party endorsement, one that Sedita used to get the Democratic endorsement despite Erie County Democratic Chairman Leonard R. Lenihan’s earlier support for another candidate [Flynn].”

Pigeon’s role with Flynn did not end there.

Nobles revealed other interactions between the two men, including an instance where Flynn requested Pigeon recommend him to New York Governor Andrew Cuomo for a Court of Claims judicial appointment.

A mutual friend, an attorney, brought Flynn to Pigeon’s waterfront condo to ask for the appointment. Flynn had support from Cuomo appointee Sam Hoyt, and others.

Nobles wrote, “Pigeon opposed Flynn for a second time in his attempts to get a major position.”

Pigeon, a longtime Cuomo advisor, recommended the governor maintain the tradition of reappointing the incumbent judge on the NY Court of Claims, which meant there was no opening for Flynn.

Governor Cuomo chose to reappoint Judge Timothy Walker, a Republican.

Steve Pigeon’s Attorney, James Nobles

Undersecretary of Navy

Nobles describes in his motion numerous interactions between the two men, with Pigeon opposing Flynn, or Flynn asking for help from the then-powerful Pigeon. They include Flynn, once appearing in his Navy Jag uniform, seeking office with Pigeon’s help.

Pigeon sometimes supported his efforts but often tempered his ambitions with recommendations of less grandiose offices.

On occasion, the two men saw each other at Buffalo Sabres hockey games as invitees to a mutual friend’s box suite. Pigeon’s close ally B. Thomas Golisano owned the Sabres.

Tom Golisano, Bill Clinton, Steve Pigeon

Around 2014, Pigeon had strong ties to President Obama and Hillary Clinton, who planned to run for president. Pigeon had raised more than $1 million for Obama and was expected to play a major role in the Clinton campaign.

Steve Pigeon and Barack Obama
Steve Pigeon with Hillary Clinton at her DC home. Pigeon worked closely with Hillary when he was part of the Clinton administration.

A mutual friend, Hormoz Mansouri, set up a lunch with Flynn and Pigeon, telling Pigeon that Flynn had a “big ask” to make.

At the lunch, Flynn asked Pigeon for help to become Undersecretary of the Navy. Instead of telling Flynn he would see what he could do, Pigeon candidly informed him he lacked the experience and would not make the recommendation.

Pigeon offered to assist Flynn in securing an alternate position, but Flynn reportedly became upset and stormed away, saying Pigeon had “killed [his] life dream.”

According to ADA Roemer’s filing, Flynn did not deny asking Pigeon’s help to secure the Navy’s second-highest civilian position. But Flynn denied being angry with Pigeon about the rejection.

Flynn did not get appointed Undersecretary of the Navy.

Nobles relates one final incident where Pigeon worked against Flynn – the 2016 district attorney election. Despite Pigeon’s opposition, Flynn won and became the DA eight years after Pigeon first helped stop him in 2008.

Flynn’s Press Conference

DA John Flynn holds a press conference to announce Steve Pigeon’s arrest for child rape.

In addition to their political history, Nobles cited Flynn’s December 2, 2021 press conference, announcing Pigeon’s arrest for rape.

Pigeon, a former member of the Clinton White House and former Erie County Chairman of the Democratic Party, had no prior accusations of sexual-related or violent crimes.

At the press conference, Flynn said, “This is big boy stuff here. OK? This is rape; this isn’t child molestation. This is rape, and so when we’re talking at that level, all right, we’re talking life in prison.”

Nobles said Flynn’s conduct at the press conference violated the attorney’s Rules of Professional Conduct, [Rule 3.6] which prohibit a lawyer from making public communication that states “any opinion as to the guilt or innocence of a defendant or suspect in a criminal matter that could result in incarceration.”

When asked about Pigeon’s bail, Flynn said, “I do not believe that Pigeon should be out of jail. I believe he should be in jail for the rest of his life, quite frankly, and we are going to proceed forward to that.”

ADA Roemer, in her opposition papers, clarified that Flynn intended to say “if the defendant is convicted,” before he said, “he should go to jail for the rest of his life.”

Pigeon was later released on $750,000 bail.

DA John Flynn is comfortable at a podium, but Steve Pigeon claims he got so loose with his words to the press, his case is now severely prejudiced.
DA John Flynn, at the press conference, took questions from the media.

Her Word Against His

During the press conference, Flynn acknowledged the alleged victim made the rape accusation nearly five years after the alleged incident.

There is no physical evidence, DNA, rape kit, hospital records, mandated reporter, or witness confirmation in the case against Pigeon.

Flynn stated that delayed reporting is not uncommon.

Flynn said, “Listen here, obviously when I found out who the alleged perpetrator was, you know, it’s — it’s not Joe Smith. We’re all human, OK? It’s not Joe Smith, you know, it’s — it’s allegedly Steve Pigeon, who obviously has some name recognition in the community….

“He has a history in the same circles that I used to travel in. You know, I don’t really travel in those circles anymore because, one, I didn’t have a re-election last year; and, two, I’m not running again three years from now. So I’ve kind of distanced myself from those circles, quite frankly.

“And so, you know — but he did travel in those circles. And so obviously, that registered too. And, you know, I can’t just dismiss that, but at the same time, that’s not a factor, and at the same time, I’m — I’m going to make sure that — that this child gets justice. And at the end of the day — listen here, at the end of the day, what’s — what’s going — what all these cases come down to a child’s going to say something. I presume he is going to say something. It didn’t happen, all right?

“At the end of the day, it’s a child’s word versus his word,” Flynn continued, “and I believe the child. I’m standing with the child, and I’m going to get the child justice.”

A reporter asked, “Do you have anything more than the word, an allegation of a child?”

Flynn said, “I’m not going to talk about any other evidence. But I have – but I have her word, though. I have her word.”

ADA Romer defended Flynn’s repeated endorsement of the now teenage accuser, writing, “It would be unethical for the District Attorney’s Office to bring these charges if the child was not believed to be credible. Charges brought in the absence of creditability would be an example of misconduct. That is not the case here.”

Isolated Alleged Incident

According to the charges against Pigeon, he allegedly committed a single isolated rape incident between November and December 2016 with no allegations of prior grooming.

Allegedly, Pigeon spontaneously raped the girl and got away with it. Then, he never tried again during the intervening years.

While Flynn repeatedly said he believed the child, he did not reveal how he came to have such faith in what appears to be a non-standard sex abuse allegation made against a 60-plus-year-old man with no prior allegations of this conduct.

There are numerous studies on the pathology of sex offenders. Studies show that child abusers typically groom their victims with the goal of secrecy and repeated abuse.

Pigeon worked in high-profile positions, including at the White House, as the Erie County Democratic Party Chairman, as an elected Erie County Legislator, and as counsel for the NY State Senate.

He traveled with notable figures such as billionaire B. Thomas Golisano, Ted Kennedy, Dick Gephardt, and General Wesley Clark, but no allegations of such conduct surfaced until a girl claimed he raped her once, out of the blue, years earlier.

Over the years, Pigeon spent a lot of time with his nieces, nephews, and cousins. None of these made allegations of sexual abuse, as Flynn well knows.

The story of Pigeon’s rape allegation was highly publicized, but no one else has come forward, as Flynn also knows.

How often is there a case of a 62-year-old prominent and successful man who only once in a lifetime commits a spontaneous rape against a child?

Flynn said he believes the child, that he is standing with the child, and that this will be a case of her word against his word.

Yet Flynn declined to interview Pigeon and managed to prevent Pigeon from appearing before the Grand Jury, where he might have told his side of the story and persuaded the Grand Jury not to indict him.

Flynn Says He Little Knows Pigeon

The relationship between Flynn and Pigeon is the core of the dispute over disqualification and the appointment of a special prosecutor.

John Flynn at the press conference announcing Steve Pigeon’s arrest on December 2, 2021.

At the 2021 press conference, a reporter asked Flynn if Pigeon “ever worked for you, and does that give you a conflict?”

Flynn replied, “I know him, obviously. I would – I would categorize our relationship as business acquaintances. Since our business is political that, I would– I guess I would categorize it ‘business/political’ acquaintance. I do not believe that I have seen him or speak to him – spoke to him in the past six years….

“I had lunch with him and another person on two occasions maybe ten years ago; just a social matter… So, yeah, I – I am definitely an acquaintance of his, but, again, I’ve probably seen him five times my whole life and haven’t seen him in the past six years. So, again, that gives me no pause at all.”

Nobles wrote, “Those statements by District Attorney Flynn are untrue. He is clearly trying to cover up his obvious conflict with the Defendant.”

The Direct Investigation

Nobles also points to how the DA handled the investigation. In May or early June 2021, a friend of the alleged victim’s mother contacted attorney Steve Boyd, a former law partner of Flynn’s.

ADA Roemer said, “The report came from the child to the child’s mother, to the mother’s friend, to Attorney Boyd, to Flynn.”

Flynn began a “direct” investigation through his office’s Special Victims Bureau instead of referring the matter to New York State Police for investigation.

ADA Roemer wrote, “Flynn asked Bureau Chief Lynette Reda to contact the mother through Boyd in order to set up a Forensic Interview of standard practice in any physical or sexual child abuse case.”

Roemer, arguing there was nothing wrong with this, added, “The DA routinely handles sexual assault investigations through the DA’s Special Victims Bureau.”

She also pointed out that the District Attorney’s Office was not the sole entity involved in the investigation.

ADA Roemer wrote: “On June 30, 2021, in less than twenty days from the child’s disclosure, Bureau Chief Lynette Reda reached out to [NY State Police] Sr. Investigator Jason Fish and Investigator Scott Mills to request assistance…. However, even if this office had conducted an in-house investigation, there is nothing improper about such action.”

Yet Flynn’s investigators chose not to interview Pigeon.

The direct investigation also allowed Flynn to avoid Criminal Procedure Law § 190.50(1) and (5) which otherwise obligated him to offer Pigeon a chance to appear before the Grand Jury, where he might persuasively tell his side of a story in a case that essentially boils down to his word against his accuser.

When one considers the disastrous consequences of the mere indictment for child rape, in the event of Pigeon’s innocence, the cost of Flynn believing the child without hearing from the accused is grave indeed.

Because Flynn made a sealed presentment to the Grand Jury, which was not charged by a felony complaint pending in a local court, Pigeon had no legal right to be heard as a witness.

Judge Carter will decide on Flynn’s disqualification and appointment of a special prosecutor on or about April 24.

Pigeon’s Aunt Speaks

Rita Gralike, 90, is a relative of the alleged victim, the alleged victim’s mother, and Pigeon. She is Pigeon’s maternal aunt.

Gralike has known Pigeon and the alleged victim’s mother all their lives. Pigeon grew up with Gralike’s children in St. Louis.

“First and foremost, this is completely out of character for Steven,” Gralike said. “He does not act this way, never has. He is not the type of person, and it doesn’t work that way. You never have just one accusation of child molestation. Never before and never again.”

Gralike, the mother of four sons, grandmother, and great-grandmother, was head of staff at the St. Louis office of former Missouri governor Joseph Teasdale.

Gralike’s late husband, Donald, served in the Missouri House of Representatives for ten years and in the state Senate for four years.

Joseph Simeone, Gralike’s late brother, was chief judge of the Missouri Court of Appeals and justice of the Missouri Supreme Court.  According to the St. Louis Dispatch, Judge Simeone “helped bring the Missouri judiciary into the modern age.” His portrait hangs in the state capitol.

“I would like to say that a family like ours would not absolve anyone guilty of molestation,” Gralike said.

Gralike does not believe the child’s story is true, and expressed concern that her mother influenced her. Gralike said her mother had made many accusations against others in the past.

“The mother has a history of instability. If you look at the number of times she called the police, it tells you a lot. She even called the police on her own father,” Gralike said of the alleged victim’s mother.

“I suspect there was some jealousy. She was resentful of Steve,” Gralike said, adding “Why would they give credibility to a child after having known Steve all their lives? Why would they even give any credence to this child like that?”

When asked why the child would make such an allegation, Gralike said, “If this child were indeed molested, I would suspect someone else in the family was responsible. Something may have happened to her with someone else, and Steve is the scapegoat. That’s what I would be looking for if I was on the jury.”

Gralike pointed to clear and persuasive evidence that if anyone abused this child, it was a particular individual, not Pigeon.

When asked if she would trust Pigeon with children, Gralike replied, “I would trust him with any of my great-grandchildren. I’m trying to get Steve to move to St. Louis. So, he could be close to our kids.”

Gralike added, “I am the last of my birth family. So, I am the matriarch of this family. And I don’t want to go to my grave seeing this false accusation brought against my nephew. I know it’s not true.”

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