A pastor in Texas who has been found guilty of circulating child pornography and planting hidden cameras to commit sexual crimes against children has been sentenced to 30 years in prison on Monday, Aug. 23.

David Alan Pettigrew, a 49-year-old pastor in the Denison Church of the Nazarene, first pled guilty to the sexual exploitation of children, conspiracy, and attempt on April 7 earlier year as part of a plea deal, according to a U.S. Attorney’s Office.

Pettigrew was first caught uploading child pornography onto two unnamed websites, alerting the police of his illicit activities. Pettigrew and co-conspirator Chad Michael Rider were subsequently arrested in August 2020.

“David Pettigrew is a predator who used his position to exploit children for his own gratification,” Acting U.S. Attorney Nicholas J. Ganjei said.

After he was apprehended, an investigation found that Pettigrew and Rider had set up hidden cameras in different locations to catch and film children in different states of undress, according to CBS DLW.

“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,” Ryan L. Spradlin, the Special Agent in charge of Dallas, said.

The cameras were reportedly hidden in nefarious forms that would not be immediately suspicious when seen, like hooks, clocks, a picture frame, a smoke detector, a wall adapter, charging blocks, and a pen, the New York Daily News reported.

Pettigrew’s victims reportedly ranged from 11 to 14 years old, and they were filmed without their consent.

“The actions and the emotional trauma Pettigrew caused to the innocent children he preyed upon is devastating and life-altering,” Spradlin said.

The government has reaffirmed its commitment to keeping children safe from sexual exploitation and promised harsh punishments to those who would violate their safety and wellbeing.

“Working with children is nothing short of a privilege, and [the Eastern District of Texas] is committed to ensuring that those who assume responsibility for children do not violate that position of trust,” Ganjei said.

Children between the ages of 11 and 14 were victimized and sexually-exploited by former Denison pastor David Pettigrew, who now faces 30 years in jail for his crime. This is a representational image. UNSPLASH

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