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Cottage Grove Pastor Admits to Making Child Porn Using Photos of Kids at Church

October 31, 2016 06:52 PM

A pastor at a Cottage Grove church who has been charged with possessing child pornography told investigators that he took innocent photos of children at the church and turned them into graphic images.

The investigation began Oct. 21 after the Bureau of Criminal Apprehension’s Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force received CyberTip Reports from both Facebook and Instagram saying a user was suspected of possessing child porn.

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The Minnesota BCA also received CyberTip Reports about another suspect believed to be living in Finland, saying the two suspects appeared to be exchanging child porn via instant messaging on Facebook or Instagram on June 26.

The three photos involved girls as young as possibly 5 years old.

Facebook reported that the Minnesota user was 47-year-old William Helker of Pine City, whose occupation was listed as an Associate/Youth Pastor at All Saints Lutheran Church in Cottage Grove. He also went by the names Will Schank and Leonard Will on Instagram and Facebook, according to the criminal complaint.
 

READ: Minnesota Pastor Arrested, Accused of Possessing Child Porn


Using subpoenas, investigators learned that the suspected porn was accessed at both the Cottage Grove church and at Helker’s Pine City home.

Investigators say they also found Internet communication between Helker and a man in Finland, where Helker asked the man to trade images of preteen and teenage girls, according to the criminal complaint.

The BCA says the man in Finland was arrested Monday, Oct. 24; two children were identified as the victims of criminal sexual conduct and matched the images sent to Helker, police say.

Helker was arrested after investigators searched his home and vehicles in Pine County on Wednesday, Oct. 26.

In an interview with investigators, Helker admitted that he possessed child pornography and said he believed he had thousands of images and videos of kids who were naked or involved in sexual acts. He also admitted to sending photos through social media, according to the criminal complaint.

Investigators say they also found pictures of kids that appeared to have been taken by Helker.

Helker told investigators that he took pictures of children and then cropped them or zoomed the focus on the children’s buttocks, saying he “Photoshopped” the images. He also admitted to editing children’s heads onto adult porn.

He then admitted to taking innocent photos of children who attend All Saints Lutheran Church events and then editing the photos to create pornographic work.

He said the number of photos he created was “in the hundreds.”

Helker has been charged with six counts of child pornography possession. If convicted, he faces up to seven years in prison and $10,000 in fines on three of the charges and up to five years in prison and $10,000 in fines on the other three charges.

Credits

Jennie Lissarrague

Copyright 2016 - KSTP-TV, LLC A Hubbard Broadcasting Company

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