A 28-year-old youth pastor in Michigan has been charged with sexually assaulting four children and faces charges of indecent exposure and distributing explicit content.
William Stefan Wahl, who worked at the River Church in Kimball, was charged Friday with two counts of second-degree criminal sexual conduct of a person younger than 13 and two counts of fourth-degree criminal sexual conduct of a person ages 13 to 16, according to court records.
He was also charged with distributing obscene matter to children, aggravated indecent exposure and using computers to commit a crime.
Wahl refused to enter a plea as records indicate that he “stood mute" during his arraignment.
Wahl is accused of sexually abusing four juvenile victims from the church, St. Clair County Sheriff Mat King was quoted as saying by The Port Huron Times Herald.
The sheriff’s office began investigating Wahl after it received a complaint of sexual assault of a child in late 2021. According to Fox 2, the investigation revealed that there were four victims involved — two of which were younger than 13 — and some of allegations dated back to 2014.
The Times Herald noted that the victims ranged in age from 10 to 17. There could be more victims, authorities believe.
Bond was set at $25,000 and was posted on Monday. Attorney Stephen Rabaut represents Wahl.
In November, Bill Wahl, the co-lead pastor of the River Church, said in a statement that within hours after the church leadership learned about possible child abuse of two minors, the church board terminated the employee and reported the allegations to authorities. Additionally, the parents of the children involved were told of the allegations.
It is unclear what the pastor’s relationship is to the defendant.
Earlier this month, a former youth pastor in Indiana was sentenced to 20 years in prison for molesting several boys aged 11 to 13 for several years.
An Elkhart County judge sentenced 46-year-old Scott Christner, formerly a youth group leader for First Baptist Church in Goshen, to three 9-year sentences for Level 4 felonies. Twenty of those years will be served in prison with seven suspended, WNDU reported at the time.
Christner also received two seven-year sentences for two Class C felonies to be served along with the remaining suspended sentence in case he violates his parole after serving the prison time.
He was convicted of molesting children dating back as far as 2012, according to court documents.
In a written statement, a victim referred to Christner’s “double life, pretending to be a kind, giving man, while also molesting kids.”
In a separate case early this month, the Reformed Presbyterian Church placed Jared Olivetti, a pastor of Immanuel Reformed Presbyterian Church in West Lafayette, Indiana, on leave pending its investigation into accusations of covering up sexual abuse involving minors in his congregation. The pastor and three elders eventually resigned.
The incidents of abuse took place on and off church property between spring 2019 and March 2020, according to IndyStar. The newspaper revealed that eight victims from multiple families reported over- and under-clothes touching, oral-genital contact and penetration by a boy at the church believed to be related to Olivetti.