A Wisconsin pastor is going to prison after officials say he sexually preyed on children in other countries.
Cory J. Herthel, 40, was a Seventh Day Adventist pastor in Green Bay when the online crimes took place, federal officials said.
On May 19, agents with the Federal Bureau of Investigations received a call from another pastor at the church where Herthel worked saying they had evidence that Herthel was involved in child pornography, according to court documents.
The evidence came from a woman in Georgia whose mother in Venezuela told her about the communication between Herthel and a 15-year-old boy.
The email said the two met while the boy was younger and begging for food in Ecuador, court documents said. Herthel was in Ecuador on a mission trip, according to a news release Dec. 4 from the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Wisconsin.
The two reconnected years later when the boy was living in Venezuela, according to officials.
The email sent to authorities showed sexually explicit images exchanged between Herthel and the boy. It also showed text messages and photos of Zelle payments sent from Herthel to the teen, court documents said.
When authorities confronted Herthel with the evidence, he admitted to taking and sending the explicit photos of himself, according to court documents.
Through further investigation, authorities found that Herthel had been communicating and exchanging sexually explicit photos and videos with two other boys, one living in Cuba and one living in Spain, officials said. He also sent them money.
“Herthel assisted the child’s move to Spain with the ultimate goal of bringing him to the United States. Herthel visited the minor on several occasions in Spain and acknowledged engaging in a sexual relationship with the child,” federal officials said.
Herthel was sentenced to 15 years in prison and must register as a sexual offender for the rest of his life.
McClatchy News reached out to Herthel’s attorney for comment on Dec. 6 but did not immediately receive a response.
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