Crime

Long Beach massage therapist found guilty of filming woman

Matthew Pierce
Matthew Pierce

GULFPORT -- A Harrison County jury has found a man guilty of secretly filming a woman while he was a massage therapist in Long Beach two years ago.

District Attorney Joel Smith said the jury convicted Matthew Edward Pierce, 27, late Wednesday night.

Pierce, a Long Beach native, faces up to five years in prison at his April 18 sentencing for filming a person when there's an expectation of privacy. Under state law, Pierce will be required to register as a sex offender for 25 years.

Circuit Judge Lisa Dodson will sentence him at the Harrison County Courthouse.

Pierce was a licensed massage therapist and had been allowed to perform massages in a home.

Long Beach police arrested him Oct. 3, 2014. At the time, Police Chief Wayne McDowell told the Sun Herald a woman had finished a session and was about to dress when she saw a phone propped up and became suspicious.

Prosecutors said the jury in the two-day trial heard testimony that the woman quickly sent a copy of the recording to herself and then provided it to police.

The jury viewed the video, which showed Pierce setting up the camera and him positioning it to make sure he filmed the woman after he left the room, said ADA Alison Baker, who prosecuted the case with ADA Jason Josef.

Evidence showed the recording wasn't an accident, prosecutors said.

A police investigator testified Pierce deleted the video before police seized his phone, but admitted there may be a video of another client whom he accidentally recorded, they said.

"It was difficult for the victim to come forward because of the sensitive nature of the video," Smith said. "We commend her for having the courage to see this case through to the end."

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