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May 31, 2019Philadelphia, PA, United StatesChild Exploitation

Former Pennsylvania pastor charged with multiple child exploitation offenses

PHILADELPHIA – On Friday, May 31, the United States Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, announced, a Hatboro, Pennsylvania man was charged by indictment with multiple counts of child exploitation offenses, including enticing a minor to engage in illicit sexual conduct and possession of child pornography, following an investigation by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) Philadelphia, and the Horsham Police Department.

Jerry Zweitzig, 71, the former pastor of Horsham Bible Church on Upland Avenue in Horsham, faces a maximum possible sentence of 170 years imprisonment, a minimum mandatory term of 15 years, 5 years of supervised release, and a $1,500,000 fine.

“Crimes against children are disgraceful and unacceptable,” said Marlon V. Miller, special agent in charge of HSI Philadelphia. “HSI will continue working with our partners to aggressively investigate cases in which child predators use the internet to further exploit children within our community, and around the world.”

“Child exploitation is a pervasive problem – made more so by the accessibility of the internet and digital media – that demands an aggressive response,” said U.S. Attorney McSwain. “The allegations in this case are particularly disturbing due to the defendant’s history as a spiritual leader in a position of community trust. We stand ready with our federal and local partners to identify and prosecute those who would prey upon minor children.”

An Indictment, Information or Criminal Complaint is an accusation. A defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.

HSI encourages the public to report suspected child predators and any suspicious activity through its toll-free Tip Line at 1-866-DHS-2-ICE or by completing its online tip form. Both are staffed around the clock by investigators. From outside the U.S. and Canada, callers should dial 802-872-6199. Hearing impaired users can call TTY 802-872-6196.

Suspected child sexual exploitation or missing children may be reported to the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children, an Operation Predator partner, via its toll-free 24-hour hotline, 1-800-THE-LOST.

For additional information about wanted suspected child predators, download HSI’s Operation Predator smartphone app or visit the online suspect alerts page. HSI is a founding member of the Virtual Global Taskforce, an international alliance of law enforcement agencies and private industry sector partners working together to prevent and deter online child sexual abuse.

Assistant United States Attorney Eric L. Gibson is prosecuting this case on behalf of the government.

Updated: 06/03/2019