Last month, Peter Ivan McNeal, who plays drums under the stage name Pete McNeal, was arrested in Los Angeles and charged with child sex abuse. The Hollywood musician was released on a $250,000 bail. In a preliminary hearing on Friday, McNeal appeared in court to hear a single felony count against him for oral copulation/sexual penetration of a child under the age of 10.
The Los Angeles Police Department believes that there may be additional victims.
McNeal, 45, joined the popular alternative rock band Cake after the recording of their hit 2001 album “Comfort Eagle,” replacing drummer Todd Roper. McNeal was a member of Cake from 2001 to 2004, and has since worked as a drummer, percussionist and vocalist for artists including Mike Doughty and Brett Dennen, and was the drummer on Norah Jones’s 2009 smash hit album “The Fall.”
Doughty was shocked by the allegations.
“I was devastated to hear of the arrest. There is nothing in my experience of Pete that indicates he's a monster. I'm horrified to note that, of course, that's always what people say,” he told FOX411’s Pop Tarts column. “But someone accused of child molestation usually gets labeled as a monster permanently, regardless of what a jury decides. I beg everybody to remember that, even if he's innocent, and acquitted, this could ruin so much of his life.”
A rep for Cake declined to comment, and Jones did not return a request for comment.
McNeal reportedly has a young son and daughter of his own. A neighbor told local news station KTLA that he appears to be a devoted father who is often outside spending time with his children. The neighbor also said the charges were a surprise.
The LAPD has, however, also issued a news release asking for the public’s help in locating additional children who may have been McNeal's victims. Those with information are encouraged to Justin Malcuit at Operations-West Bureau, Sexual Assault Detail 213-473-0417.
This isn’t McNeal’s first brush with authorities. The musician was arrested by the Sexual Assault Detail in 2009 on a separate case involving the attempted molestation of a young girl. The status of that case is unclear. Due to the pending litigation, McNeal’s attorney, Robin Yanes, would not comment on details surrounding the current case or this previous arrest.
During Friday’s preliminary hearing, prosecutors requested that his bail be increased to $1.5 million, but a rep for the Los Angeles County District Attorney's Office said the original bail amount still stands. California Criminal Defense Attorney, David E. Wohl, who does is not involved with the case, noted that $250,000 bail is “common” when these types of cases are alleged.
“It's always a concern, especially to the victims, that an alleged child molester has been released on bail. Bail however, is a constitutional right in most cases, and this one is no exception. He will be watched closely by authorities, rest assured,” he said. “Mr. McNeal's got plenty to be worried about. If he's convicted of having sexual intercourse with a child 10 years old or younger he faces a sentence of 25 years to life in prison. There is no latitude for the judge, that sentence is mandatory. If he's convicted of a ‘lesser’ offense, for example oral copulation with a child 10 or younger, he faces 15 years to life in prison.”
Arraignment is scheduled for Feb. 10, and pretrial and trial dates will be set after that.