9/25/2010 | Share this article: View CommentsFormer pastor Travis J. Gandy was charged Friday with 31 felonies based on explicit photos and text messages he allegedly exchanged with two teenage boys from his church.
A criminal complaint said Gandy exchanged more than 4,000 messages with the boys — ages 15 and 16 — and sent one boy sexually explicit pictures of the other.
Gandy, a Town of Sheboygan resident, was charged in June with one felony related to each boy, but a forensic examination of his computer led to an additional 24 counts of possession of child pornography and seven counts of sexual exploitation of a child. The charges carry a maximum combined penalty of 535 years in prison.
Gandy, the former pastor of music ministries at Praise Fellowship Church, knew both boys from church and kissed one boy in the church attic, court records show. He was fired the day the first complaint was issued and remains in jail in lieu of cash bonds totaling $20,000.
The complaint filed Friday said Gandy used an e-mail account to send messages and pictures to the boys’ cell phones, and they in turn sent messages and pictures he could view on the computer. Those messages numbered 4,240 between April 30 and June 14.
Many of the messages contained graphic descriptions of sex acts, as Gandy described to each boy sex acts he wanted to perform or had performed, the complaint said. Some of the images had been downloaded to Gandy’s computer, which also contained various family photos.
The exploitation charges stem from a flurry of messages sent late May 30 into the early morning hours of June 1. Records show Gandy solicited nude pictures from both boys, sent out nude pictures of himself and sent explicit pictures of the 15-year-old to the 16-year-old.
Earlier in the day of May 30, Gandy had brought the 16-year-old to his apartment and performed a sex act on him while Gandy’s wife was gone, records show. That was the basis for one of the June charges, a count of felony sexual assault of a child by a person who works or volunteers with children.
The other charge, felony exposing a child to harmful material, was based on explicit pictures Gandy exchanged with the 15-year-old boy. Gandy also arranged two rendezvous with the 15-year-old in the church attic and repeatedly asked the boy to have sex with him in early June, but the boy refused.
Gandy’s previous attorney, Kirk Obear, said during an August court appearance that Gandy planned to enter a plea agreement on the two initial charges, but that was put on hold after attorneys for both sides were told additional evidence had been uncovered. John Hawley, Gandy’s current attorney, declined comment Friday on how the new charges may affect a potential plea deal.
“We got the complaint a minute before the hearing started, and I think it would be premature for me to say anything else about it,” Hawley said.
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