Altoona superintendent facing federal child sex trafficking, porn charges

Incidents in 2015-16 did not involve student in district, officials say
Daniel Peggs mugshot
Dane County Sheriff's Office

ALTOONA, Wis. — A school leader in Eau Claire County was indicted this month on child sex trafficking charges, the Department of Justice said in a news release.

The federal indictment against Altoona schools Superintendent Daniel Peggs, 32, was unsealed Thursday, the same day he was arrested in Altoona, officials said. Peggs is facing charges of sex trafficking of a minor and production of child pornography.

“We realize this is a tremendous shock to the Altoona community,” officials at the School District of Altoona said in a statement Thursday. School spokeswoman Joyce Orth said the district was informed of Peggs’ arrest on Thursday morning.

School Board President Robin Elvig said during a news conference Thursday afternoon that Mike Markgren was named acting superintendent while the Peggs investigation continues.

“This is a very serious charge,” Elvig said. “I think I’m still actually in shock. I truly am.”

The indictment alleges that from October 2015 through May 2016, Peggs “recruited and maintained an individual knowing that the individual was a minor and would be caused to engage in a commercial sex act.”

The indictment also alleges that in December 2015, Peggs used the minor to engage in sexually explicit conduct and that he used an iPhone to make a child porn video.

According to United States Attorney Scott Blader, the conduct Peggs is charged with doesn’t involve an Altoona student.

Peggs was brought to Madison Thursday for an initial appearance before Magistrate Judge Stephen L. Crocker in U.S. District Court. He’s being held in the Dane County Jail awaiting a detention hearing Monday.

If convicted, Peggs faces a mandatory minimum penalty of 10 years and a maximum of life in federal prison on the sex trafficking a minor charge.

The school district said counselors will be available to help any staff or students “struggling with this news.”

The DOJ said the investigation was a part of Project Safe Childhood, a nationwide initiative to combat child sexual exploitation and abuse. Project Safe Childhood marshals federal, state, and local resources to better locate, apprehend, and prosecute individuals who exploit children via the Internet, as well as to identify and rescue victims.