Texas Pastor David Pettigrew and an accomplice set up hidden cameras in several locations in at least two counties by disguising them as hooks, clocks, charging blocks, a smoke detector, a picture frame, an air conditioner adapter and even a pen, according to the Justice Department.
The former pastor, who was arrested last year, later admitted that he filmed a child in his home and that he and his co-defendant secretly recorded multiple children at the Denison Church of the Nazarene in Grayson County, about 75 miles north of Dallas, federal prosecutors said. The victims were about 11 to 14 years old at the time they were unknowingly filmed.
Pettigrew, 49, also uploaded some of the footage to the internet, prompting two websites and the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children to contact authorities, according to prosecutors. An investigation led them to Pettigrew’s home and the church in August 2020.
“David Pettigrew is a predator who used his position to exploit children for his own gratification,” said Acting U.S. Attorney Nicholas J. Ganjei. “Parents and kids in Grayson County trusted Pettigrew as an educator, pastor, and friend, all the while unaware of his criminal intent. Working with children is nothing short of a privilege, and EDTX is committed to ensuring that those who assume responsibility for children do not violate that position of trust.”
A federal judge sentenced him to 360 months in federal prison.