Pastor of Virginia Church, School Arrested for Possessing Child Porn

Thursday, 28 Mar 2013 02:12 PM

By Michael Mullins

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The pastor of a Lutheran church and school in Virginia was arrested Wednesday on child pornography possession charges, stunning church members and neighboring residents.

The arrest of David Smith, 35, the pastor of Trinity Lutheran Church and School in Norfolk, Va., was a culmination of an investigation by the Norfolk police department's computer crimes unit.

Smith was charged with 10 counts of possession of child pornography and will be arraigned on Thursday. Investigators refused to say how they obtained the photos and whether or not they were of any local children.

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Howard Copeland, Smith's attorney, confirmed on Wednesday that his client had already confessed to authorities that the offensive images belonged to him. He added that Smith was willing to work with the courts in order to achieve a less severe sentence reports local NBC affiliate WAVY.com.

An investigation by the Norfolk Police Department's Computer Crimes Unit led police to the suspect. Investigators declined to say how they obtained the materials and whether they depicted local children.

Smith has been the top administrator at the church and its school for the past two years.

The Trinity Lutheran Church and School released a statement on their website.

"Trinity Evangelical Lutheran Church and School and the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod are stunned to learn that Trinity's pastor, Rev. David Smith, was charged with ten counts of possession of child pornography," the statement said. "The Church will cooperate completely with authorities and their ongoing investigation. Pastor Smith has been placed on leave pending the investigation and is not allowed to come onto campus. Our prayers are with Pastor Smith and his family."

Norfolk resident David Sorey, who has been sending his children to summer school at Trinity Church for years, said he did not believe the allegations.

"If there's any remote truth to [the allegations], the entire church would be accountable and we'd find another childcare [provider] for the summer," he said.

Neighbors of the church said Smith appeared to have had a positive influence on the community.

"I'm astounded. We've always heard nice things about the church," neighbor Nancy Stewart told local ABC News affiliate WVEC.com. "They've always been very good neighbors to us, respecting our neighborhood and doing a lot of things for us . . . It's just horrifying to hear about that."

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Related links:

Megachurch Pastor Keeps Mum on Sex Allegations

LA Archdiocese, Cardinal Mahony Settle Sex Abuse Cases

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