NASHUA, N.H (WHDH) - A New Hampshire pastor has been arrested on a felony charge of possession of child sexual abuse images, authorities announced Tuesday.
Stephen Bates, 46, of Nashua, was taken into custody just before 10 a.m. after members of the Nashua Police Department’s Special Investigations Division and Homeland Security officials executed a search warrant at the Bible Baptist Church – Parsonage on Caldwell Road in Nashua, authorities said.
Officials launched an investigation into the Bible Baptist Church in August 2016 after Nashua police say the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children shared a cyber tip indicating child pornography had been accessed by an electronic device utilizing an IP address associated with the church. Similar cyber tips were also received in 2017.
All of the tips were investigated but the results were said to be insufficient to support any criminal charges.
Subsequent child sexual exploitation investigations in Colorado in 2019, in Florida in 2020, and in Washington in 2021 were also linked to an IP address at the same church, and Bates was deemed a person of interest, according to authorities.
When investigators searched Bates’ belongings, police say they found two flash drives containing numerous images of child pornography.
“I think this case is particularly concerning because he is a pastor and somebody that’s involved in the community here,” Nashua Police Lt. Brian Trefry said.
Anthony Edes, who lives near the church, said that this news is disturbing to hear.
“I’ve met the pastor. He was super nice,” Edes said. “None of us really expected this of him.”
Bates’ bail was set at $3,000 and police say additional charges are expected.
He is slated to be arraigned in Hillsborough County Superior Court-South.
Anyone with further information about this case is asked to call the Nashua Police Department Crime Line 603-589-1665.
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