Former Cake Drummer Sentenced for Child Molestation

Back in the good ol' days, if you heard about a celebrity sex scandal, it involved who was sleeping with whom, who was cheating on whom, and whose sex tape was leaked. Recently, though, it seems as if celebrity sex scandals more frequently involve sex crimes than consensual sexual escapades:

  • Stephen Collins, an actor who played a minister and father of seven on the television series 7th Heaven is accused of exposing himself to three young girls and molesting at least one of them.
  • Bill Cosby, perhaps the most famous of wholesome TV dads, has been accused of rape by several women.
Obviously, celebrity sexual assault claims aren't anything new, but in the past few weeks, the headlines seem inundated with accusations. Just this week, Peter Ivan McNeal, former drummer for notable acts including Cake and Norah Jones, was sentenced to 15 years in prison for molesting a 3-year-old girl. Police arrested McNeal in early 2012 for the incident they say took place at a Thanksgiving party in 2009. He was charged with a single count of oral copulation of a child under 10. Although his first trial ended in a mistrial with a hung jury, he was convicted in the spring of 2013. This week, he was finally sentenced in the case. McNeal is sentenced to 15 years to life in prison and lifetime sex offender registration. The drummer has another conviction involving child molestation as well. Just a two weeks after the Thanksgiving incident, McNeal was accused of trying to molest a 6-year-old girl at a school where he was working as a volunteer. In that case, McNeal pleaded guilty to two counts of luring a child and lewd conduct. He was given 3 years of probation and ordered to attend sexual counselling for a year. McNeal and his family continue to maintain his innocence in the most recent case, and his attorney has filed an appeal. It does seem a difficult case in which to obtain a conviction: a man is accused of having oral sex with a toddler, but the arrest came more than two years after the alleged incident--and only after he was convicted of a separate crime. It seems that evidence would be shaky at best, with a lack of physical evidence and the testimony of a 6 or 7-year-old asked to recall an incident when she was only 3. It is possible that the girl was led to make certain statements and to have false recollections after being questioned in the aftermath of McNeal's guilty plea to an attempted molestation. It is also possible that he is, in fact, guilty of the crime of which he was convicted. Regardless, while one jury could not reach an agreement, a second jury found enough evidence for a guilty verdict. Unless his appeal is successful, he will spend the next several years in prison.