A deacon faces up to 70 years behind bars after a court found him guilty of filming two young boys as they used the bathroom in his church.
A court in Tallahassee, Florida, USA convicted Steinhatchee man Jonathan High, 30, of two counts of use of a child to produce child pornography on 4th October.
High had previously pleaded guilty to a single count of possession of child pornography.
His crimes were discovered after the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children tipped-off law enforcement officers about files containing child pornography that had been uploaded to a cloud storage account.
An investigation revealed that the account belonged to High, who was serving as the deacon of a church in Perry at the time.
Further investigation revealed that some of the images and videos that High was in possession of had been produced by him personally.
Authorities say the minister had made separate video recordings of two young boys as they used the bathroom in his church.
The deacon must now attend a sentencing hearing scheduled for 9th January next year.
He faces between 15 and 70 years in prison.
In a statement obtained by Newsflash, the United States Attorney’s Office Northern District of Florida said: “Jonathan High, 30, of Steinhatchee, Florida, has been convicted of two counts of use of a child to produce child pornography. The guilty verdict, returned yesterday [4th October], at the conclusion of a one-day bench trial, was announced by Jason R. Coody, United States Attorney for the Northern District of Florida. Prior to the trial, High pleaded guilty to one count of possession of child pornography.
“In August 2021, law enforcement officers received a Cybertip from the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC) that a user of a cloud storage account uploaded files constituting child pornography. An investigation revealed the account belonged to High. Law enforcement officers obtained a search warrant for High’s cell phones and desktop computer, and after an examination of their contents, confirmed that High was in possession of multiple child pornography images and videos that depicted prepubescent boys engaged in sex acts or exposing their genitals in a lascivious manner. Further investigation revealed that some of these images and videos were produced by High personally; High produced separate video recordings of two young boys using the bathroom in a Perry, Florida church where High served as a deacon.
“High’s sentencing hearing is scheduled for January 9, 2023, at 1:30 p.m., at the United States Courthouse in Tallahassee before United States District Judge Allen Winsor. High faces a minimum mandatory sentence of 15 years in prison and a combined maximum of 70 years in prison for all three counts.
“This conviction was the result of a joint investigation conducted by Homeland Security Investigations, the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, and the North Florida Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force. Assistant United States Attorneys Justin M. Keen and Kaitlin Weiss prosecuted the case.”