A Texas pastor was arrested and charged with multiple criminal counts involved with child pornography on Wednesday. An Austin federal court accuses 56-year-old David Lloyd Walther of knowingly searching for, downloading, distributing, and possessing child pornography after an FBI search of the suspect’s home, vehicle, and two computer hard drives.
The criminal complaint alleges that Walther downloaded and made available child pornography using the peer-to-peer file-sharing network, BitTorrent. The former pastor of Faith Baptist Church in Round Rock, TX – a suburb of Austin, the state capital – faces up to 20 years in prison if convicted. According to the Department of Justice:
“Walther is charged with distribution, receipt, transportation and possession of child pornography. If convicted, Walther faces up to 20 years in prison. Walther made his initial appearance today before a U.S. Magistrate Judge in Austin. A federal district court judge will determine any sentence after considering the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.”
The disgraced man of God told an FBI agent that “he had a pornography addiction and would often go through cycles of downloading and viewing pornography depicting both adults and minors,” The Austin American Statesman reported.
“He also said that he would download child pornography files, ‘but would often feel guilty and go through a “purging” of files, i.e., deleting the images and associated files, because he knew it was wrong, and that he last purged files on November 08, 2022, the night before the search warrants were served,’ according to the complaint.”
Several law enforcement agencies are working on the investigation, including the San Antonio branch of the FBI’s Child Exploitation and Human Trafficking Task Force, and the Round Rock Police Department.
David Lloyd Walther, 56, Pastor of Faith Baptist Church in Round Rock, has been charged with distribution, receipt, transportation and possession of child pornography.https://t.co/iIwP5tFoTS
— 𝐁𝐞𝐤𝐬 (@antifaoperative) November 13, 2022
Walther told authorities that he didn’t know he was sharing child pornography through the BitTorrent network and also apologized “for his actions,” the complaint said. The children in the seized materials were between the ages of 8 – 17, the suspect told federal officers.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Matthew Devlin is prosecuting the case, for the Western District of Texas.
The case against the Georgetown resident was brought as a part of Project Safe Childhood – a nationwide initiative to combat the growing epidemic of child sexual exploitation and abuse that was launched in May 2006 by the Department of Justice. Led by the U.S. Attorneys’ Offices and the Criminal Division’s Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section (CEOS), Project Safe Childhood marshals federal, state, and local resources to better locate, apprehend and prosecute individuals who exploit children via the Internet, as well as to identify and rescue victims, the DOJ said in a press release.
PSC has been instrumental in apprehending bad actors who exploit children. As Christian nationalists – and their attacks on the so-called “groomers” in the LGBTQ community — rise around the country, the role churches have played in the systemic abuse of those most vulnerable is noteworthy.
A deacon at Faith Baptist Church, David Beacon, said that Walther was a pastor at the religious institution for 18 years.
“We regret anything along these lines that has happened,” Clawson said on Friday about the charges against Walther. “The church will continue to move forward as God has led,” Clawson said.
He declined further comment.
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