A judge slapped a Texas church pastor with a 30-year prison sentence for secretly filming children — some as young as 11 — while they undressed, the New York Daily News reports.
David Pettigrew, along with co-defendant Chad Rider, set up multiple hidden cameras disguising them as “hooks, clocks, charging blocks, a smoke detector, a picture frame, an air conditioner adapter and even a pen.”
The covert recording of children took place at Denison Church of the Nazarene in Grayson County.
When Pettigrew tried to upload the footage to the internet, two websites and the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children alerted the authorities.
“The deviant behavior of any individual that occupies a position or role of public trust, especially one that betrays that trust, is unforgivable and repulsive,” Dallas Homeland Security special agent Ryan Spradlin said in a statement. “The actions and the emotional trauma Pettigrew caused to the innocent children he preyed upon is devastating and life-altering.”
This Monday, a federal judge sentenced Pettigrew to 30-years in federal prison. Rider is still fighting the charges.
“David Pettigrew is a predator who used his position to exploit children for his own gratification,” Acting U.S. Attorney Nicholas Ganjei, of the Eastern District of Texas, said in a statement after the sentencing. “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 [my office] is committed to ensuring that those who assume responsibility for children do not violate that position of trust.”