Erstwhile Static-X and Dope guitarist Tripp Eisen was released from a California state prison last week, a little more than six months after his arrest on a single crimes-against-children count, and is — for now — a free man.
Eisen’s freedom could end up being short-lived, depending on what next week brings. He’s due to stand before a judge in New Jersey on October 7 for arraignment on charges of sexual assault, criminal sexual contact, luring and endangering the welfare of a child.
The guitarist’s troubles began on February 10, when Eisen, whose real name is Tod Rex Salvador, was arrested on a single felony count of crimes against children (see “Static-X Guitarist Charged In Two Separate Sexual Assaults” ). Authorities from the Orange County (California) Sheriff’s Department found the 39-year-old musician sleeping in a parked car with an underage female he was alleged to have had sexual intercourse with. He was booked but later released on $100,000 bail.
Two weeks later, Eisen was arrested by New Jersey police on charges of kidnapping, aggravated sexual assault, luring to entice a minor through the Internet and endangering the welfare of a child. The police claim Eisen had sex with a 14-year-old Sayreville girl he met online.
According to Steve Meister, Eisen’s defense counsel for his California criminal case, the guitarist accepted the terms of a plea bargain on June 24. “He acknowledged his responsibility,” Meister said, and pleaded guilty to two felony counts of engaging in unlawful sex with a minor. He was sentenced to a term of one year, but because he’d been in custody since late February, “[Eisen] had substantial custody credits” and wound up “serving just a couple of months.”
Meister said that because Eisen pleaded guilty to felonies that weren’t “as serious,” he was only required to serve half of his one-year sentence. Eisen “made a mistake, he owned up to it, and he paid his penance,” the attorney said.
According to Meister, the plea deal followed soon after “a preliminary hearing that substantially weakened the [prosecution’s] case, but ultimately, we were not going to have the defenses available to us that we wanted, and so it became clear that we had to try to resolve it by way of a plea instead of a trial.
“The [California accuser’s] credibility was very shaky,” explained Meister. “She told people she was anywhere from 14 to 19. She told a cop one age, a detective another, [Eisen] another. She met him at an 18-and-older club, so she either had a fake ID or lied to the bouncers. We weakened the prosecution’s case, but really, [Eisen] had a reasonable, good-faith belief that she was an adult.”
According to Daryl Saunders, who’ll represent Eisen in court next week, his client is obligated to appear at his New Jersey arraignment. Eisen was arrested in the midst of Static-X’s recording of Start a War, which hit stores just 10 days before Eisen’s aforementioned guilty plea. The band booted Eisen and replaced him with former guitarist Koichi Fukuda.