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Wilson pastor arrested on child porn charge

By Olivia Neeley | olivia@wilsontimes.com | 252-265-7879
Posted 5/9/19

Authorities allege a Wilson pastor enticed a 16-year-old girl to create child pornography for more than a year.

Wilson police charged 33-year-old Daniel Franklin Heath, an associate pastor at …

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Wilson pastor arrested on child porn charge

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Posted

Authorities allege a Wilson pastor enticed a 16-year-old girl to create child pornography for more than a year.
Wilson police charged 33-year-old Daniel Franklin Heath, an associate pastor at First Baptist Church in Wilson with first-degree sexual exploitation of a minor.
Heath, who has been the church’s associate pastor for three years, was the youth pastor there for seven years prior to his current role.
The FBI contacted the Wilson Police Department in April regarding Heath, who was the subject of an ongoing investigation, according to Sgt. Steve Stroud.
On Tuesday, the police department’s FBI Task Force detective assisted FBI agents in conducting a search warrant at Heath’s home in Wilson, Stroud said. Based upon evidence gathered at the scene, authorities arrested and charged Heath.
“The joint state and federal investigation is ongoing, therefore no additional information can be released at this time by the Wilson Police Department,” Stroud said.
Heath’s arrest warrant in Wilson alleges that he did “encourage” a 16-year-old girl to “engage in sexual activity, perform sexual activities to herself for the purpose of producing material containing a visual representation depicting this activity, the defendant knowing the character and content of the performance and material.”
Police allege the activity occurred from Dec. 1, 2017 to March 11 of this year.
Heath is being held in the Wilson County Detention Center under a $500,000 secured bond. He also may be a flight risk and is believed to be a potential harm to himself and the community, according to charging documents.
‘IT HURTS’
Henry Skinner, First Baptist’s deacon board chairman, said church officials and its members are devastated.
“It hurts those who loved and cared for him,” Skinner told The Wilson Times. “It hurts the church. It hurts our reputation as Christians. Anytime there is a fallen leader in our midst, especially in a faith situation, it’s extremely difficult. The person you’ve known and loved has fallen from grace, but our faith says we must still love the individual while we may detest what he may have done.”
Skinner said the church held its normal Wednesday night fellowship meal where church members prayed and were able to express how they were feeling after hearing about Heath’s arrest. He said parishioners were dealing with the anguish and hurt surrounding it all.
“In this situation, his family is much loved by this congregation and we support them with our love and our presence,” he said.
Police ask anyone with information on the case to call the Wilson Police Department at 252-399-2323 or Crime Stoppers at 252-243-2255.

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