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Texas pastor sentenced to 30 years after using hidden cameras to secretly film child porn at church

David Pettigrew
David Pettigrew |

A former Texas pastor has been sentenced to 30 years of federal prison after he pleaded guilty to using hidden cameras to record sexually explicit material of underage children at church and other locations.

David Pettigrew, ex-pastor of the Church of the Nazarene in Denison, Texas, was sentenced to 360 months in prison by U.S. District Judge Amos L. Mazzant on Monday. He pleaded guilty in April for using hidden cameras to record sexually explicit material of underage children at church and other locations.

According to the Department of Justice, Pettigrew confessed to secretly taping naked minors in Collin and Grayson counties, including at his church, using cameras disguised as hooks, clocks, a picture frame, a smoke detector, an AC wall adapter, charging blocks and a pen. 

The children, ages 11 to 14-years old, had no idea they were being recorded while they were reportedly undressing, bathing and toweling off at the Denison Church of the Nazarene in Grayson County. 

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

“Parents and kids in Grayson County trusted Pettigrew as an educator, pastor and friend, all the while unaware of his criminal intent. Working with children is nothing short of a privilege, and EDTX is committed to ensuring that those who assume responsibility for children do not violate that position of trust."

The Christian Post reached out to Denison Church of the Nazarene for comment. A response is pending. 

Law enforcement officials started investigating Pettigrew after they received referrals sent by two electronic surveillance providers and the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children," according to the Justice Department. The referrals identified a computer user who uploaded suspected child pornography onto their online platforms.  

Homeland Security Investigations agents executed federal search warrants at Pettigrew’s residence and the Denison Church of the Nazarene On Aug. 6, 2020. 

Following the searches, Pettigrew was arrested. 

Pettigrew has three children and began working for the church in 2006, according to a local CBS News affiliate

Collin County chiropractor Chad Michael Rider is also being investigated for allegedly conspiring alongside Pettigrew to film undressed minors. Pettigrew admitted to conspiring with Rider to record minors.

Agents also executed a search warrant at Rider’s residence on Aug. 21, 2020.  

According to information detailed in various court documents reported by News 12, there was an instance where cameras were set up in a room at the Denison church and Pettigrew and Rider allegedly instructed several minors to stand in a plastic wading pool, undress and use buckets of water to clean themselves.

Ryan L. Spradlin, special agent in charge of HSI Dallas, said in a statement that Pettigrew’s actions against minors are "unforgivable and repulsive." 

“The actions and the emotional trauma Pettigrew caused to the innocent children he preyed upon is devastating and life-altering,” Spradlin said in the statement. “Protecting those most vulnerable is a top priority for HSI and we will never relent in our pursuit of characters like Pettigrew who breach their positions of trust to exploit minors.”

The case against Rider is ongoing as Homeland Security Investigations and the Grayson County Sheriff’s office continue investigating. 

The case is part of Project Safe Childhood, which was launched in 2006 by the Justice Department to combat child sexual exploitation. 

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