Federal and International, Law and Order

Lutheran Pastor Sentenced for Distribution of Child Pornography

East St. Louis, IL-(ENEWSPF)- Steven P. Tibbetts, 62, a Lutheran pastor out of Godfrey, Illinois, was sentenced to 87 months in federal prison followed by 10 years of supervised release for knowingly distributing child pornography in December 2019. The Court further ordered Tibbetts to pay $10,000 in restitution to victims who were depicted in some of the videos and photographs.

Court documents and evidence showed that Tibbetts began viewing and distributing child pornography starting in the 1990s and continued until his arrest in June 2020. Furthermore, while Tibbetts was on pre-trial release for the charged offense, an officer located additional devices in his home, which were later found to contain child pornography. The instant offense involved 2,430 images of child pornography and 408 videos containing child pornography.

Tibbetts has served as a Lutheran pastor since 1992. At the time the complaint was filed, Tibbetts was employed as the head pastor at Resurrection Lutheran Church in Godfrey, Illinois. When sentenced, the Court noted that “The defendant was living two lives of sorts.”

FBI Springfield Division and Macoupin County Sheriff’s Department investigated the case. Significant assistance was provided in the early stages of the investigation by the Peoria (Illinois) Police Department.

The case was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Christopher R. Hoell and Karelia S. Rajagopal.

The United States Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Illinois is the federal prosecuting office for cases arising in 38 counties in Southern Illinois, an area with a population of approximately 1.2 million people. The Office is headquartered in Fairview Heights and also has branch offices in Benton and East St. Louis. Our district is one of three U.S. Attorney’s offices in the State of Illinois, the Northern District is headquartered in Chicago and the Central District is headquartered in Springfield.

This is a release from the United States Department of Justice.