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Child Exploitation

Missouri pastor charged with receiving child pornography

SPRINGFIELD, Mo. - A local Baptist pastor was charged in federal court Tuesday with receiving child pornography over the Internet. The charges resulted from an investigation conducted by the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Office of Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) and the Southwest Missouri Cyber Crimes Task Force.

Michael Alan Crippen, 51, of Duenweg, Mo., was charged with receiving child pornography in a criminal complaint filed Oct. 26 in the Western District of Missouri. Crippen is the pastor at First Baptist Church in Duenweg.

According to an affidavit filed in support of the criminal complaint, Crippen was identified during an investigation by the Dutch National Police into a child pornography website in The Netherlands. Europol provided information to ICE HSI agents in the United States, who identified Crippen's computer as one that downloaded child pornography in August 2009. Law enforcement officers contacted Crippen at his residence on Oct. 13 and seized his laptop and desktop computers. At least 100 images of child pornography were found on the computers, according to the affidavit, including images of children under 10 years of age.

Crippen was arrested Oct. 25 and remains in federal custody pending a detention hearing on Oct. 29. The government has filed a motion that Crippen be held without bond until his trial. Crippen is a danger to the community, the motion states, because he holds a position of trust that provides access to minor children and his residence is located next to an elementary school. The motion also states that Crippen is a flight risk because he has applied for employment as a pastor in another community and had a job interview scheduled for Oct. 26.

The public is cautioned that the charge contained in this complaint is simply an accusation, and not evidence of guilt. Evidence supporting the charge must be presented to a federal trial jury, whose duty is to determine guilt or innocence.

This case is being prosecuted by Supervisory Assistant U.S. Attorney Michael S. Oliver, Western District of Missouri.

This investigation was part of Operation Predator, a nationwide ICE initiative to protect children from sexual predators, including those who travel overseas for sex with minors, Internet child pornographers, criminal alien sex offenders, and child sex traffickers.

ICE encourages the public to report suspected child predators and any suspicious activity through its toll-free hotline at 1-866-DHS-2ICE. This hotline is staffed around the clock by investigators.

Suspected child sexual exploitation or missing children may be reported to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, an Operation Predator partner, at 1-800-843-5678 or http://www.cybertipline.com.