Pastor charged for possessing child porn

Cottage Grove pastor charged with possessing child porn

COTTAGE GROVE, Minn. - A local pastor has been charged after authorities say they found thousands of pornographic images and videos involving children on his computer and phone. 

William Leonard Helker, 47, was arrested Thursday on suspicion of possessing child pornography after agents from the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension (BCA) executed a search warrant at his trailer in Pine City. The search warrant was executed after the BCA received a number of cybertips reported by Facebook and Instagram that Helker was exchanging images of nude minor females with a man in Helsinki, Finland.

When agents appeared at his home Helker reportedly admitted to possessing thousands of pornographic images and videos on his laptop and on his phone. He said that all of the subjects were under the age of 18, and were photographed engaged in sex acts or with their genitals exposed. 

Until late last week, Helker was an associate pastor at All Saints Lutheran Church in Cottage Grove. His electronic footprints indicate that some of the pornographic images were accessed while at church. 

The criminal complaint also says that Helker told a female agent that he had taken numerous photos of innocent children from All Saints Lutheran Church, and then photoshopped the children's faces onto pornographic images to use for his sexual gratification. 

The church issued a statement last Friday saying:

We are aware of the arrest of William Helker and he was placed on administrative leave yesterday. We are concerned and ask prayers for all affected and will cooperate fully with law enforcement. We are committed to providing safe spaces for all children and youth at All Saints and in the community.

William Helker is charged with 6 counts of possession of pornography involving minors. Each count carries a maximum sentence of five years in prison. 


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