David Pettigrew Texas
Former Nazarene pastor David Pettigrew of Denison, Texas has been sentenced to 30 years in prison. (Screenshot / CBS 11)

Former Nazarene Pastor in Texas Sentenced in Federal Child Porn Case

By Sarah Einselen

A Texas pastor has been sentenced to 30 years in prison after pleading guilty to charges including sexual exploitation of children.

David Pettigrew, 49, was one of two men charged last summer in connection with a federal child porn investigation. As part of his guilty plea, Pettigrew admitted to secretly recording five children ranging from 11 to 14 years old as they undressed in a room at the church and at his home. He was sentenced in late August. (The case against the other man is ongoing.)

Acting U.S. Attorney Nicholas J. Ganjei called Pettigrew “a predator who used his position to exploit children for his own gratification” in a press release from the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Texas.

“Parents and kids in Grayson County trusted Pettigrew as an educator, pastor, and friend, all the while unaware of his criminal intent,” Ganjei added. “Working with children is nothing short of a privilege, and (Eastern District of Texas) is committed to ensuring that those who assume responsibility for children do not violate that position of trust.”

While employed as a pastor at Denison Church of the Nazarene, according to court documents, Pettigrew set up hidden cameras in a room at the church, positioned to capture video of the children’s genitalia as they undressed, bathed and toweled off. Authorities alleged he made the recordings between May 2016 and August 2020, when he was arrested.

Give a gift of $25 or more to The Roys Report this month, and you will receive a copy of “Is it Me? Making Sense of Your Confusing Marriage” To donate, click here.

Pettigrew was also a substitute teacher and had been a board member for a local foster parent association, the Sherman Herald-Democrat reported.

Law enforcement arrested Pettigrew after tracing internet uploads of suspected child pornography to his home and the church.

“The deviant behavior of any individual that occupies a position or role of public trust, especially one that betrays that trust, is unforgivable and repulsive,” Ryan L. Spradlin, Special Agent in Charge of HSI Dallas, said in the release. “The actions and the emotional trauma Pettigrew caused to the innocent children he preyed upon is devastating and life-altering.”

An archived version of the Denison Church of the Nazarene website states Pettigrew started pastoring there in 2006. Court documents show he was still pastor there as of his arrest.

Pettigrew was previously pastor of the Nazarene church in McCrory, Arkansas, according to the archived webpage, and was ordained as an elder in the Church of the Nazarene in 2004.

The Denison church’s website currently refers media requests to the North/East Texas District of the Church of the Nazarene. The district office provided a written statement to The Roys Report.

“It grieves us that our Christian brother David Pettigrew has produced child pornography,” the district’s statement read in part. “It grieves us all the more that he betrayed the trust that was placed in him to exploit innocent children. That said, and regardless of what he did, David is still loved by God and by us.

“We pray that the children who have been exploited will find healing and experience God’s grace in their lives as they deal with the serious consequences of having been abused, and that each of them will know in these days that she is loved by God and will know that God will work in her life,” the statement continued. “We further pray that David will also know in these days that he is still loved by God and that he will know that God will continue to work in his life.”

Before Pettigrew’s arrest, the church had not received any complaints about him regarding sexual misconduct or related questionable behavior, a district spokesman said.

The Nazarene denomination’s sexual abuse prevention program, NazareneSafe, was implemented at the Denison church in 2014, according to information spokesman Montie Brown provided. It’s built on the five-part system developed by MinistrySafe, which was founded to help religious institutions meet legal standards of care and reduce the risk of sexual abuse.

Pettigrew and others from the Denison church attended refresher training in May 2015 and October 2019, Brown said in an email.

Statement from Church of the Nazarene, Northeast Texas District 

Press Release re David Pettigrew 2021

Sarah Einselen is an award-winning writer and editor based in Texas.

SHARE THIS:
  •   
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  

GET EMAIL UPDATES!

Keep in touch with Julie and get updates in your inbox!

Don’t worry we won’t spam you.

More to explore
discussion

7 thoughts on “Former Nazarene Pastor in Texas Sentenced in Federal Child Porn Case”

  1. thank you so much for exposing these horrid crimes going on in churches. If not for you, and the work you all do, how would we be aware??? God bless you all!

  2. Can I ask that there is more reporting on what the church is doing that is restorative in nature? How the church is restoring this wicked culture. There has got to be good news where people have their heart transformed. Transferred from the kingdom of darkness to the kingdom of His beloved Son.

    This is sad. I thought as in prior comments that only people with reformed theology had this problem. Sin is a universal problem. There is also (I include myself. As I believe there is only one error in the Bible. Paul said he is the chief of sinners. I know I am!) so much cynicism in comments. Maybe, could there be a weekly post of what God is doing?

    “Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.”

  3. It’s very odd and disturbing to me that the statement from the church refers to him as a “Christian brother,” and focuses so heavily on God still using him.

    1. Interesting given that the Nazarene Church does not hold to eternal security. If he repents he could be used again, just not as a pastor or in any role involving children.

    2. Agreed. While there’s not anything untrue in their statement, it seems very unbalanced. There’s no biblical fear of God in this statement. God is merciful, but He’s not a harmless chump.

  4. Regarding that statement from the District, I think all we need to do is ask one question: If one of the child victims or their parent/guardian were to read it, how would it make them feel? The attitude seems to be “this stuff happens all the time with church leaders so we cannot in any way be held responsible”. This statement is void of sackcloth & ashes.

The Roys Report seeks to foster thoughtful and respectful dialogue. Toward that end, the site requires that people use their full name when commenting. Also, any comments with profanity, name-calling, and/or a nasty tone will be deleted.

Comments are limited to 300 words.

Leave a Reply

The Roys Report seeks to foster thoughtful and respectful dialogue. Toward that end, the site requires that people register before they begin commenting. This means no anonymous comments will be allowed. Also, any comments with profanity, name-calling, and/or a nasty tone will be deleted.
 
MOST RECENT Articles
MOST popular articles

Donate

Hi. We see this is the third article this month you’ve found worth reading. Great! Would you consider making a tax-deductible donation to help our journalists continue to report the truth and restore the church?

Your tax-deductible gift helps our journalists report the truth and hold Christian leaders and organizations accountable. Give a gift of $25 or more to The Roys Report this month, and you will receive a copy of “Is it Me? Making Sense of Your Confusing Marriage”