NH Pastor Stephen Bates stripped of job amid child pornography probe – NBC Boston
The former pastor of a New Hampshire church has been removed from his post amid an investigation into child sex abuse images.
Stephen Bates, 46, the former pastor of the Bible Baptist Church in Nashua, faces five felony charges of possessing child sexual abuse images after investigators said they found five graphic videos showing child sexual abuse images on a USB drive in his pocket.
Bates was arrested on Tuesday morning at the Bible Baptist Church on Caldwell Road, where he lives, for felony possession of child sex abuse images. Court documents released on Thursday show he now faces five charges of possessing child sexual abuse images, instead of just one.
In a statement posted on the church’s website, the congregation denounced Bates and called the allegations against him “ungodly, impious, unnatural, perverted and reprehensible.”
“We condemn (his actions) as being totally contrary to the beliefs, work and mission of the Bible Baptist Church and the scriptures that are so dear to us,” the statement read.
“We have worked with and will continue to support our local law enforcement in this matter and our wish is for justice to be served. Our hearts break for all his victims and we grieve with them for the hurt, pain and damage. irreparable harm he has caused. We encourage anyone who has been victimized by Stephen Bates’ actions to contact local law enforcement,” the statement continued.
The church noted that it was trying to get Bates evacuated from its premises, but his current bail conditions require him to return to that address. The church said it was waiting for those bail conditions to be changed so it could have him deported.
What we know about the Stephen Bates investigation
Court documents show that Bates had been under investigation dating back to 2016 after several different investigations across the country pointed to an IP address associated with his church.
A court affidavit said that when Bates was arrested on Tuesday, he had two USB drives in his pants pocket. A forensic examination of records showed child sexual abuse images in various files involving children as young as 13.
Investigators said several other electronic devices were also seized from the Bible Baptist Church and a full forensic examination of the devices was still ongoing.
Stephen Bates, the 46-year-old pastor of the Bible Baptist Church is accused of having child sex abuse photos.
Nashua police said the investigation leading to Bates’ arrest began in August 2016 when the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children sent Nashua police a tip that sexual abuse footage on children had been accessed by an electronic device using an IP address associated with the Bible. Baptist Church. Similar tips were received again in 2017 and investigated, but police said the results were not sufficient to warrant criminal charges.
In 2019, as part of a Homeland Security investigation into the production and distribution of child sexual abuse images in Denver, Colorado, the suspect in the case shared images with an unknown person with a IP address associated with the Bible Baptist Church.
A year later, police in Tallahassee, Florida, investigating the posting of child sexual abuse images on the Internet, discovered that the account responsible for posting the images was using an IP address associated with the same church. of New Hampshire.
Also in 2021, a Homeland Security investigation into the sexual exploitation of a child in Blaine, Washington, revealed that the suspect in that case communicated with an unknown person through social media “about their mutual interest to have sexual contact with children”. Again, the IP address used by the stranger was associated with the Bible Baptist Church.
On Wednesday afternoon, the church’s website was down. Although police say no local victims have been identified, they encourage any concerned parishioners to come forward.
Police say they discovered disturbing images of a pastor from Nashua.
Nashua police said Bates was considered a person of interest in previous investigations, but until Tuesday there was insufficient evidence to charge him with any crimes. While executing a search warrant at the church on Tuesday, police said they found two USB drives on Bates containing numerous images of child sexual abuse images.
Bates is currently out on bail. An arraignment is scheduled for April 7 in the Southern Superior Court District of Hillsborough.
After Bates posted bond, NBC10 Boston asked him about the charges he faces. He declined to comment.
Anyone with further information about the case is asked to call the Nashua Police Department Crime Line at 603-589-1665.