Paxton Singer, a former youth minister at the Harvest Bible Chapel in Illinois has been charged with the sexual exploitation of a teenage boy.
The minister, whose church condemns the LGBTIQ community, allegedly asked the 16-year-old for nude photos. He also asked about his sexual habits and invited him to spend a weekend alone together.
Prosecutors says Singer, 24, “knowingly enticed a person under 17 years of age to remove their clothing for the purpose of sexual arousal or gratification of the defendant or the child”. He faces a misdemeanour charges of disorderly conduct and sexual exploitation of a child.
Singer met the minor at a church event in 2016 and allegedly sent him suggestive text messages between October 2016 and August 2017. The incidents were reported to Harvest Bible Chapel leaders, who fired him. The church said in a statement the Illinois Department Of Children And Family Services (DCFS), and families connected to Singer’s ministry, were notified the same day as the termination.
But a DCFS official told the Chicago Tribune that the charges filed against Singer did not result from the January notification, but from a hotline call made months later: “The DCFS child protection investigation was completed in October 2018, and Paxton Singer was indicated for sexual exploitation.”
Singer also worked at the church’s campus, Rolling Meadow where his is alleged to have been inappropriate with three male teens.
“Three incidents related to the former employee in question were all reported to DCFS during the second and third week of January 2018.” Scott Milholland, Harvest Bible Chapel’s senior executive pastor, told The Tribune. “Further contact between our staff and DCFS beyond that time period were follow-up related and did not involve any new incidents.”
Not stopping there, Singer is also alleged to have sent inappropriate texts to another teen. The teenager who is not included in the charges will be allowed to testify. Kane County Circuit Judge Michael Noland said the texts to the “uncharged victim” were similar enough that his testimony was relevant. Another alleged victim is not being allowed to testify, as he was 17 at the time and therefore wasn’t legally considered a child.
The Assistant State’s Attorney has subpoenaed AT&T for Singer’s phone records. The trial was originally scheduled to start in July but has been delayed until 4 September. It may be delayed further to give the defence time to review the records.