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Former northwest Iowa pastor facing child pornography charges

OCHEYEDAN, Iowa -- The former pastor at St. Peter Lutheran Church in Ocheyedan is facing a felony charge of child pornography possession. Robert Cairl Trueblood, 56, of Fairmont, was a pastor at St. Peter Lutheran Church for 11 years, starting hi...

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Robert Cairl Trueblood

OCHEYEDAN, Iowa - The former pastor at St. Peter Lutheran Church in Ocheyedan is facing a felony charge of child pornography possession.

 

Robert Cairl Trueblood, 56, of Fairmont, was a pastor at St. Peter Lutheran Church for 11 years, starting his role in 1988. He then became a pastor at St. James Lutheran Church in Northrop, where he taught elementary and secondary levels at the parochial school.

 

Trueblood is facing the felony charge after an undercover investigation led officers to search Trueblood's computer, where they found pornography depicting children.

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An Ocheyedan parishioner who wished to remain unidentified said she was in shock when she heard the news, as Trueblood was an active member of the community and started a community pre-school program.

 

“Everybody is in disbelief,” she said. “He was so well loved.”

 

The parishioner said anyone who has any misbehavior by Trueblood to report while he worked at St. Peter Lutheran Church should come forward.

 

If convicted, Trueblood could be facing a maximum sentence of five years in jail, a $5,000 fine or both. He is scheduled to appear in court for a contested omnibus hearing on June 12.

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According to court documents, the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension Internet Crimes Against Children (ICAC) received a tip from Chatstep, an online chat room. The company’s representatives reported that a user identified as “PervyPastor” accessed a chat room through the service and uploaded child pornography on March 7.  

 

A Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension (BCA) agent received information from Frontier Communications in response to an issued subpoena that indicated that the IP address reported by Chatstep was assigned to a subscriber identified as St. James Lutheran Church and School in Northrop.

 

Chatstep officials also provided historical data from Nov. 4, 2016 through April 29, 2017 in which the IP address was used. Agents confirmed that the user “Pervy Pastor” accessed the chat room on numerous occasions. The same IP address was also used by “TrueRev” and “Robert.”

 

The BCA worked in conjunction with the Martin County Sheriff’s Office in an undercover investigation during which a BCA agent engaged in a conversation with “TrueRev.”  During the conversation, officers confirmed that the individual with the “TrueRev” username was indeed a pastor from Fairmont. “TrueRev” made a statement during the conversation in which he wrote, “… but have engaged with many older high school seniors and even more younger freshmen in college … but all legal.”

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Agents were also able succeeding the individual’s untraceable email address, which led the agents to think he didn’t want his identity to be discovered. “TrueRev” indicated that the contact information was to be used for “clandestine conversations.”  Later in the conversation, the individual gave a physical description that matched Trueblood’s.

 

“TrueRev” also gave the indication that he had been propositioned for sexual contact with individuals younger than age 18, but added that he had not followed through with physical contact.

 

On April 24, “TrueRev” established a private chat room in which an agent was under the username “Pastor.” During that time, “TrueRev” sent several explicit photographs of young males.

 

A search warrant was executed April 27 at the church office of St. James Evangelical Lutheran Church in Northrop. During the warrant’s execution, Trueblood’s computer was taken into custody and preliminarily examined. During the search, agents discovered pornographic photographs depicting children younger than age 18.

 

TrueBlood admitted that he was the one conversing with the undercover agent.

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