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Denison pastor arrested on fed child porn charges

Staff Writer
Herald Democrat
A Denison pastor is facing federal child abuse charges

A Denison pastor is facing federal child pornography charges.

David Pettigrew, pastor at the Church of the Nazarene in Denison, is in federal custody tonight.

A complaint filed in the Eastern District of Texas Friday shows that federal authorities claim that on May 20, Pettigrew violated the Transportation of Child Pornography statue of the U.S. Code. The file noted that Pettigrew appeared before Magistrate Judge Christine Nowak on Friday with an appointed attorney named Frank Henderson. The affidavit used to support the complaint was not view able in the federal court file system available on line.

However, a statement from the Office of the District Attorney for the U.S. Attorney Stephen J. Cox said court documents showed that, Pettigrew came to the attention of law enforcement officials through referrals sent by two electronic surveillance providers and the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children.

“Those referrals identified a computer user who uploaded suspected child pornography onto their online platforms. On August 6, 2020, Homeland Security Investigations agents executed federal search warrants at Pettigrew’s residence and the Denison Church of the Nazarene, after which, agents arrested Pettigrew,” the statement said.

If convicted, Pettigrew faces a minimum of five years and up to 20 years in federal prison.

Any members of the public with information about this case or possible victims are urged to contact the U.S. Attorney’s Office at 1-800-804-3547 or their local law enforcement.

This case is being brought as part of Project Safe Childhood, a nationwide initiative to combat the growing epidemic of child sexual exploitation and abuse launched in May 2006 by the Department of Justice. Led by United States 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. For more information about Project Safe Childhood, please visit www.projectsafechildhood.gov.

This case is being investigated by Homeland Security Investigations and the Grayson County Sheriff’s Office and prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Marisa J. Miller and Jay Combs.

It is important to note that a complaint, arrest, or indictment should not be considered as evidence of guilt and that all persons charged with a crime are presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.

Pettigrew was remanded into the custody of federal marshals after the hearing Friday.

Information on the website for Denison Church of the Nazarene says that Pettigrew has been a pastor there since 2006. It says he was ordained as an elder in the Church of the Nazarene in 2004. He previously served as pastor of the Church of the Nazarene in McCrory, Arkansas.

An email sent to Pettigrew's church email address was not immediately answered Friday evening. A phone message left at the church Friday was not immediately returned.