Former Cottage Grove pastor sentenced in child porn case
MINNEAPOLIS — A former youth pastor in Cottage Grove, Minn., is heading to prison for sending sexually explicit images of children to others on social media sites, authorities say.
William Leonard Helker, 47, of Pine City, was sentenced in federal court in Minneapolis this past week to 12K years in prison on one count of distribution of child pornography, according to a statement released by the U.S. attorney’s Minnesota office.
Investigators were tipped off to Helker’s behavior this past fall when the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children sent a tip to federal authorities about a Minnesota man who had reportedly sent pornographic images of children to someone in Finland.
Authorities later learned that the man in question was Helker, who was working at the time as an associate pastor at All Saints Lutheran Church in Cottage Grove.
Helker later admitted in court to sending the images to people on social media and also to engaging in a sexually explicit conversation with someone who told him she was 14, authorities report. He also took snapshot images of real minors and superimposed the pictures into pornographic images, court documents say.
Helker will serve 15 years on probation upon his release from prison.
- St. Paul Pioneer Dispatch