Bond lowered for man facing child porn charge

John Peters (Image courtesy Wake County Sheriff's Office)

January 12, 2012 2:40:56 PM PST
A local man who looks like Santa Claus, and often plays him, had a second court appearance Thursday on child pornography charges.

Seventy-year-old John Peters remains charged with first-degree sexual exploitation of a minor, solicitation by computer, and disseminating obscene material to a minor under 16. However, his bond was cut.

Peters, of Cary, who sometimes portrays Santa ay private and corporate events, was dressed Thursday in orange and white instead of red and white. In his jail clothes, Peters spoke only a few words - simple answers to the judge's questions.

He's accused of chatting with an Apex teenager online, asking her to pose for nude photos and sending her nude photos. Apex police say he was driving this red sports car with the personalized plate "SANTACAR" when he showed up for what he thought was a meeting with the girl. However, he was greeted by undercover officers who arrested him.

A magistrate first set his bond at $1 million on Wednesday, but his attorney told the judge Thursday that was excessive -- that the bond didn't need to be that high to make sure he shows up in court to face the three felony charges.

"I don't think that's an issue. He's been in the area since 1972," said Peters' attorney Slade Trabucco. "He's 70 years old at this point, been married 31 years, lives with his wife currently, retired from IBM. At this point, based on these charges, I think it's reasonable to say you can set conditions of release that will ensure the safety of the community and ensure his appearance."

Even the prosecutor agreed the $1 million bond was above the recommended amount. So, the judge lowered it to $600,000.

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