Godfrey, Illinois pastor charged in federal child porn case

Illinois

GODFREY, Ill. – The head pastor at a Lutheran church in Godfrey, Illinois is facing federal charges of possession of child pornography.

Federal investigators say the pastor admitted collecting inappropriate video of the child for some 30 years. Now, they say he’s having his day in court.

“I’m pretty well speechless about this and, honestly, I really don’t know what to say,” said worshipper Gail Schultz.

Some Godfrey, Illinois worshippers of the Lutheran faith are left stunned as Pastor Steven Tibbetts, the head of the Resurrection Lutheran Church, is now charged with distributing child pornography.

“I’m finding it hard to, of course, hard to believe but in today’s world I’m not almost shocked by anything anymore,” Schultz said.

Schultz has been a Lutheran all of her life and believes she’s met Tibbetts once or twice since he took over the church.

On the surface, the charges raise many eyebrows but a deeper look into the federal case gets even more disturbing.

Court docs say Tibbetts used social media sites like Tumblr, The New Tumblr, and Twitter to spread child pornography.

After the social media sites turned over the information to authorities, FBI agents traced the IP address to a computer used by the Lutheran pastor.

Following a federal search of his home on June 18, Tibbetts admitted to trading child pornography since the 1990s. He further admitted to having a sexual interest in minor males as well.

“We pray for wisdom and guidance and leadership. He was led in the wrong way,” Schultz said.

Tibbetts has been stripped of his duties in the church while he awaits trial.

As church members cope with this heart-wrenching news, they’re left wondering what’s next for their house of worship and hoping for the best.

For transparency, mugshots and photos of suspects are not released in federal cases.
Fox 2 reached out to the lawyers representing the pastor, they did not return our request for a statement.

Meanwhile, the pastor is now on house arrest released on $10,000 bond pending trial date.

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