A father who faces murder and child abuse charges in the death of his 11-year-old son, Roman Lopez, now is accused of sexually exploiting a girl at his home in the months before the boy disappeared in Placerville.
Jordan Piper, 36, has been charged with sexual exploitation of a child in alleged acts that occurred from Oct. 3, 2019, through Jan. 9, 2020, in Tuolumne and El Dorado counties, according to a criminal complaint filed Tuesday in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of California.
Piper, who has been held without bail at the El Dorado County Jail since Feb. 4, 2021, has been ordered to make his first appearance Thursday in federal court to face the sexual exploitation charge. Once Thursday’s hearing is done, Piper will be returned to custody in El Dorado County where he continues to await prosecution in his son’s death.
Roman was reported missing from his home Jan. 11, 2020. Officials later revealed that “investigators located Roman deceased inside a storage bin in the basement” of Piper’s rented Placerville home hours after the boy was reported missing.
As the Placerville Police Department investigated Roman’s death, law enforcement seized a digital camera and other digital devices. Investigators searched cellphones and found evidence that Piper secretly recorded videos of the underage girl, according to a filed affidavit from the FBI.
The FBI obtained a search warrant for Piper’s digital devices and found a video on a GoPro camera. The video appeared to have been recorded on Oct. 19, 2019, and it shows Piper removing the camera from behind a wall outlet in the bathroom of a rented home in Groveland, according to the affidavit.
The FBI said investigators found many videos that depicted the girl using the bathroom and bathing. The girl was living in Piper’s Groveland home at the time, according to the affidavit.
On Piper’s Samsung cellphone, investigators found screenshots from the secretly recorded videos of the girl; more than 430 explicit images of the girl, the FBI said. Other videos found, dating back to Oct. 4 and 5, 2019, were of the girl using the bathroom and bathing other children, according to the affidavit.
Piper sent the girl sexually explicit text messages from Dec. 16 through 24, 2019 “concerning a sexual ‘Christmas gift,’” and offering her $250 to use it, according to the affidavit.
If convicted of sexual exploitation of a child in federal court, Piper could face 15 to 30 years in prison and a maximum fine $250,000 and at least five years of parole, according to the criminal complaint.
El Dorado County murder case continues
Jordan and Lindsay Marie Piper, his wife and Roman’s stepmother, were arrested last year in connection with the boy’s death. The Pipers were charged with second-degree murder and child abuse likely to cause great bodily injury or death and causing cruel and extreme pain for revenge, extortion or sadistic purpose, according to a criminal complaint filed in El Dorado Superior Court.
Jordan Thomas Piper in February 2021 was charged with an additional count of willfully failing to provide food, clothing, shelter and medical attention to the boy.
Lindsay Piper was charged with a separate count of willfully having “mingled a poison and harmful substance with food, drink, medicine, and pharmaceutical product and placed a poison and harmful substance in a spring, well, reservoir and public water supply” knowing it could cause injury. The Pipers last year pleaded not guilty to those charges.
Last month, Roman’s stepmother changed her plea to no contest to the murder charge, the El Dorado County District Attorney’s Office said. Lindsay Piper, 40, is scheduled to be sentenced July 8 and faces a sentence of 15 years to life in prison. She remains in custody at the El Dorado jail.
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