A Texas pastor will spend three decades behind bars for secretly filming children as young as 11 years old getting undressed, bathing and toweling off at his church, authorities said Monday.
David Pettigrew and an accomplice set up hidden cameras in several locations in at least two counties by disguising them as hooks, clocks, charging blocks, a smoke detector, a picture frame, an air conditioner adapter and even a pen, according to the Justice Department.
The former pastor, who was arrested last year, later admitted that he filmed a child in his home and that he and his co-defendant secretly recorded multiple children at the Denison Church of the Nazarene in Grayson County, about 75 miles north of Dallas, federal prosecutors said. The victims were about 11 to 14 years old at the time they were unknowingly filmed.
Pettigrew, 49, also uploaded some of the footage to the internet, prompting two websites and the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children to contact authorities, according to prosecutors. An investigation led them to Pettigrew’s home and the church in August 2020.
Ryan Spradlin, special agent in charge of the Homeland Security Investigations’ Dallas office, condemned Pettigrew for breaching his position of trust to “exploit minors.”
“The deviant behavior of any individual that occupies a position or role of public trust, especially one that betrays that trust, is unforgivable and repulsive,” Spradlin said in a statement. “The actions and the emotional trauma Pettigrew caused to the innocent children he preyed upon is devastating and life-altering.”
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SOURCE: NY Daily News, Nelson Oliveira