NEWS DIGEST: Florida pastor arrested on child porn, former Immanuel employee gets additional charges

Florida pastor arrested on child porn charges

PALMETTO, Fla. (BP) — Jonathan Edward Elwing, senior pastor of Palm View Baptist Church in Palmetto, was arrested June 21 on four counts of possession of child sexual abuse images.

The church, located on the southern edge of Tampa Bay, confirmed the arrest of Elwing, 43, on its Facebook page that same evening. Elwing resigned from the church prior to being arrested.

The church’s chairman of deacons told local news that Palm View had held several training sessions on identifying signs of sexual abuse. He added that Elwing, who according to online records began at the church in November 2019, followed a pastor who had been with the congregation for 41 years.

Manatee County Sheriff’s Office detectives received information the day prior that Elwing had used cryptocurrency to purchase the images online. Deputies found four “sexually explicit photos of children” on his cellphone Friday after executing a search warrant at his home and office. Elwing remains in custody at the Manatee County jail and is being held on $15,000 bond for each count.  

The Conservative Baptist Network, of which Elwing was a member of the Florida state chapter leadership, released a statement on June 22.

“Upon learning of this news, he was immediately removed from the Network,” said Timothy Pigg, CBN network director. “I ask that you pray for the Palm View Baptist Church and Jonathan’s family.”

Anyone with more information about crimes that may involve Elwing are encouraged to call Manatee County Crime Stoppers at (866) 634-8477. Those providing tips remain anonymous and may be eligible for a cash reward.

New sexual assault, kidnapping charges brought against former Immanuel employee

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (BP) — A former staff member for Immanuel Baptist Church has been arrested on new charges stemming from an accusation more than five years ago.

Patrick Stephen Miller served as the church’s assistant director of children’s ministry from May 2014-January 2016. On June 21, he turned himself in to authorities after being charged with second-degree sexual assault and kidnapping. Miller pleaded innocent and was released on $50,000 bond.

Accusations from an elementary-age victim led to a plea deal for Miller in January 2022 from second-degree sexual assault to misdemeanor harassment. Miller was also given a one-year suspended sentence with 19 days credit for time served and was not required to register as a sexual offender.

Friday’s charges stem from accusations of a second accuser, reported the Arkansas Democrat Gazette.

Last December, Immanuel leadership was criticized over withholding information on the case from its congregation. After months of controversy over the matter, Stephen Smith preached his final sermon as pastor on April 7, the week after Easter Sunday.

If you are/have been a victim of sexual abuse or suspect sexual abuse by a pastor, staff member or member of a Southern Baptist church or entity, please reach out for help at 202-864-5578 or [email protected]. All calls are confidential.

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