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Baptist pastor arrested for child porn possession after authorities search parsonage

Stephen Bates
Stephen Bates |

A Baptist pastor in New Hampshire was arrested for possession of child sexual abuse images, following an investigation by multiple law enforcement entities that lasted nearly six years.

The Nashua Police Department arrested 46-year-old Stephen Bates on Tuesday after executing a search warrant on the parsonage. Bates is the pastor of Bible Baptist Church of Nashua, an independent Baptist congregation. 

Police said in a statement that while searching Bates’ parsonage, they found two flash drives on his person, which had “numerous images of child pornography” on them.

“As a result of him possessing child pornography Pastor Bates was arrested,” stated the Nashua Police Department on Tuesday. “Pastor Bates has been initially charged with Possession of Child Sexual Abuse Images but more charges are expected as the investigation continues and more digital evidence is analyzed.”

The charge is a Class A felony, according to authorities, and can carry a punishment of up to 15 years in state prison, exclusive of fines. Bates had his bail set at $3,000.

The investigation began in August 2016, when the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children contacted Nashua Police with a tip indicating that child pornography had been accessed by a device with an IP address associated with Bible Baptist Church.  

Offices of the Homeland Security Investigations in Denver, Colorado, and Blaine, Washington, conducted investigations into the distribution of child pornography and child sexual exploitation in 2019 and 2021. They also discovered the source of the crimes being an IP address associated with the church.

Additionally, in 2020, when police in Tallahassee, Florida, investigated the publishing of child pornography online, they learned that the account responsible for publishing the images “utilized an IP address associated with the Bible Baptist Church.”

“From the onset of the investigation, Pastor Bates was contacted several times by investigators with the Nashua Police Department and Homeland Security Investigations,” the department’s statement reads.

“Pastor Bates was considered a person of interest during the earlier investigations but until today there wasn’t sufficient evidence to charge him with any crimes.”

Other investigative bodies involved in the case included the Nashua Police Department’s Special Investigations Division, the New Hampshire Internet Crimes against Children Task Force and the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office.

According to its website, Bible Baptist Church was founded in 1980 by a group of ex-Catholics. Bates became the church’s pastor in August 2005 following a unanimous vote. 

The Christian Post reached out to Bible Baptist Church for comment on Bates’ charges, but a response wasn't immediately received. A second attempt to reach the church was also unsuccessful. 

The church’s Facebook page appears to be disabled. 

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