GODFREY – A former Lutheran pastor at a Godfrey church will spend more than seven years in federal prison following a conviction on child pornography charges.
Federal investigators said Steven Tibbetts admitted to collecting illicit images and videos of children over a three-decade period.
Tibbetts was once the head of the Resurrection Lutheran Church. He would later face charges, following a June 2020 arrest, of knowingly distributing child pornography. The charge is in relation to a December 2019 incident.
Court documents and evidence presented at trial said Tibbetts began viewing and distributing the material in the 1990s. It would continue until his arrest. By that time, he’d been utilizing social media sites to spread child pornography.
When the FBI began investigating the matter, agents traced the IP address to a computer used by the pastor. Federal authorities would search his home, and Tibbetts is said to have made a confession. He would also later admit to having a sexual interest in minor males.
While Tibbetts was out on pre-trial release, an officer found additional electronic devices at Tibbetts’ home, containing more than 2,400 images and 400 videos of child pornography.
The church would strip Tibbetts of his duties after his arrest. He had been a Lutheran pastor since 1992.
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Jake Leonard, a broadcast media and journalism veteran, is the editor-in-chief of Heartland Newsfeed. Leonard is also GM and program director of Heartland Newsfeed Radio Network, wrestling editor and contributing writer for Ambush Sports, a contributing writer for My Sports Vote and Midwest Sports Network, and a former contributor to Bleacher Report and Overtime Heroics. He resides at home in Nokomis, Ill. with his dog Buster.
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