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Church trustee suspected of possessing child porn after vigilante sting

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A vigilante group broadcast a Facebook Live post of an Albion church trustee who is suspected of trying to hook up with an underage girl he met online and was later arrested in connection with child porn.

Sources familiar with the Albion church said the 58-year-old suspect is on the board of trustees and serves as the property manager, which gave him access to the church’s buildings.

He was arrested at the church Thursday after police said child pornography was found at the man’s home.

Confronted by the vigilante group known as 517 Child Predator Exposure (CPE) the man allegedly went to the store parking lot to pick up an underage girl he met online Saturday.

517 CPE: “Do you think it's okay for a 58-year-old to hang out with a 15-year-old girl?”

SUSPECT: “There was nothing going to be happening. as far as”

517 CPE: “You wanted me to stay the night, you told me you were going to clean your bathtub so I could take a bubble bath if I wanted to.”

The man is being held in the Calhoun County Jail awaiting formal charges of child pornography and suspicion of child solicitation. Newschannel 3 is not identifying the suspect or naming the church where he is a trustee until charges are filed.

In the vigilante sting that was broadcast on Facebook Live on Saturday, the suspect admits he needs help and later said he should've gone to church instead of the store parking lot.

“I don't know, I just want the companionship sometimes,” the suspect said in the video that’s been viewed more than 30,000 times.

The anonymous member of the vigilante group said in the video that the 58-year-old talked to three different decoys posing as young girls online.

Before confronting the suspect, the 517 CPE member said, “He's very, very into the church. He's always talking to me about how he's working for the church. Doing things for the church, he was at the church all day yesterday.”

At the church just days later, in the middle of vacation bible school, police arrested the 58-year-old after they said child pornography was found at his home Thursday.

517 CPE: “What makes it OK in your mind to hang out with a 15-year-old?”

SUSPECT: “You know, I don't know, really because all I was looking for was someone to hang out.”

Investigators said they don't have reason to believe children at the church or within the city of Albion have been victimized by the suspect.

Still an ongoing investigation, Albion Police declined to comment further on the case Friday.

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