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Former Cake Drummer Stands Trial for Child Molestation

Pete McNeal
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Well, this is disturbing. Following his February arrest for allegations of child sex abuse, former Cake drummer Pete McNeal is standing trial, and the proceedings have already dredged up some details of the events that led to his current legal predicament.

We’ll refrain from sharing the worst of it, but as testimony begins in McNeal’s trial, it’s clear he faces an uphill battle — not only when it comes to beating the charges, but in clearing his name. Following his three-year stint in Cake, which ended in 2004, McNeal built a solid career for himself as a session drummer for artists such as Mike Doughty and Norah Jones; one imagines that, whatever the outcome of this trial, it’ll be hard for him to get gigs.

Doughty said as much when contacted by Fox News regarding McNeal’s arrest, saying, “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. 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.”

Perhaps most problematic for McNeal is the prosecution’s belief that the incident that led to his arrest was part of a larger pattern of behavior. He reportedly was also was arrested in 2009 for misdemeanor child molestation and contributing to the delinquency of a minor, but pleaded guilty to the lesser charge of  luring a child and lewd conduct and was given 36 months probation and ordered to attend one year of sexual offender counseling classes. The LAPD has issued a news release asking any other potential victims to come forward.

“Mr. McNeal’s got plenty to be worried about,” said David E. Wohl, an attorney not involved with the case. “If he’s convicted of having sexual intercourse with a child 10 years old or younger” — a charge it is not clear that he is even facing — “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.”

McNeal is currently free after posting $250,000 bail.

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