LDS missionary from Utah arrested in California child pornography investigation
Jacob Klopfenstein, KSL.com
FREMONT, California (KSL.com) — A 19-year-old Latter-day Saint missionary from Utah was arrested Wednesday in connection with a child pornography investigation, according to California authorities.
Hayden Hunter, who is from Pleasant Grove, Utah was serving as a missionary for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Fremont, California, southeast of San Francisco in the Bay Area, according to a Facebook post from the Mountain View (California) Police Department.
Hunter was arrested Wednesday morning on suspicion of distribution of child pornography, police said.
Police got a tip in Sept. 2019 that a person in a private Facebook Messenger group was connected to over 20 cyber tips that indicated possible child pornography, police said.
The Facebook group also included some children as young as 13 years old, according to police. Detectives went through videos and images that ultimately were determined to be child pornography.
Police did not say exactly how Hunter is connected to the Facebook group or the cyber tips.
Detectives believe there may be more victims who may have interacted with Hunter online, according to the Facebook post. Anyone who interacted with him or the email address email@example.com, an alias police believe he used, is asked to contact Mountain View Police Sgt. Tim Dahl at firstname.lastname@example.org.
“Our investigators did a phenomenal job working this case,” Mountain View Police Lt. Frank St. Clair said in the Facebook post. “Their diligence and tireless efforts to stop this predatory behavior are commendable.”
Church leaders relieved Hunter of his position as a missionary as soon as they learned about the allegations, according to church spokesman Eric Hawkins.
“The allegations against this young man are very serious, and are completely against the teachings of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints,” Hawkins said in a statement. “There can be no tolerance for child pornography. It is among the most serious of sins, and something for which the Church requires formal restrictions on membership, including a likely loss of membership in the Church.”
Hawkins continued: “We are cooperating fully with law enforcement, and are grateful for their efforts to pursue such serious matters.”