But Michael A. Crippen, pastor of the First Baptist Church in Duenweg, soon broke down and admitted to investigators that he had secretly viewed images of adult and child pornography via the Internet for years, according to allegations contained in an affidavit filed Tuesday in U.S. District Court in Springfield.
Crippen, 51, appeared Tuesday in federal court on a complaint of possessing child pornography. He remains in custody pending a detention hearing scheduled for Friday.
The minister’s arrest has stunned members of his congregation.
“We’re just nonplused,” said Bob McKinzie, a former minister and current member of the church. “It came as a shock to us and a real surprise.”
Despite his alleged admissions to the two investigators on Oct. 13, Crippen was not arrested until Monday after forensic examinations of laptop and desktop computers that were removed from his home on that date. The affidavit states that the minister signed a consent form allowing the special agent from Immigration and Customs Enforcement and a Joplin police officer to seize the two computers and examine their hard drives.
McKinzie said he plans to deliver this Sunday’s sermon in the minister’s absence.
U.S. Attorney Beth Phillips says Europol provided information to federal agents in the United States, who identified Crippen's computer as one that downloaded child pornography in August 2009.
Phillips says the government has filed a motion that Crippen be held without bond until his trial. The motion states that Crippen is a danger to the community because he holds a position of trust that provides access to minor children and his residence is located adjacent to an elementary school.
The motion also states that Crippen is a flight risk because he has applied for employment as a pastor in another community and had a job interview scheduled for today.
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