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TN Pastor Indicted After Using Church Wi-Fi to Upload Child Sex Abuse Material

By Josh Shepherd
daryl hayes
Daryl Hayes, former lead pastor of Berry’s Chapel Church of Christ in Franklin, Tennessee, has been indicted on six counts of sexual exploitation of a minor. (Photo: Williamson County Sheriff's Office)

The former pastor of a Tennessee church has been indicted on sexual exploitation charges, after police investigators found he uploaded child sex abuse material to the internet from his church office.

According to court documents, Daryl Hayes, 50, of Franklin, Tennessee, was indicted on April 10, on six counts of sexual exploitation of a minor. Hayes, formerly lead pastor of Berry’s Chapel Church of Christ near Nashville, was arrested Tuesday by local authorities. According to public information officer Sergeant Becky Coyle, he bonded out of Williamson County Jail the same day, paying $50,000 in fees. 

Court documents reveal that Hayes used the church’s Wi-Fi to upload six separate videos that involved “a minor engaged in sexual activity” from October through December of last year. Last December, local investigators executed a search warrant of the church and Hayes’ residence.

A news release from the Williamson County Sheriff’s Office stated that the church was “fully cooperative” with the investigation and that “Neither Hayes’ family, nor the church, were aware of Hayes’ activities.” Investigators added that they did not believe there were “any local child victims, or any additional concerns for the public.”

The church confirmed in a statement to The Roys Report (TRR) that church elders, known as “shepherds,” were notified of the investigation in December. Hayes’ employment at the church was “immediately terminated.”

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daryl hayes
Berry’s Chapel Church of Christ in Franklin, Tennessee (Video screengrab)

“We are not aware of any harm to any families affiliated with Berry’s Chapel Church of Christ,” stated church spokesman Ken Young. “The Church condemns sexual immorality of any kind and especially holds its leaders to a high standard of accountability for their actions, especially those actions that may adversely affect children.”

The county sheriff’s office noted that its Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force received a tip from the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children (NCMEC) about Hayes’ criminal activity. 

In a news release last November, the sheriff’s office noted their close partnership with NCMEC. Last year, investigations of the county’s task force resulted in grand jury indictments of “15 adults related to sexual exploitation of a minor” and “a total of 107 felony charges” during a six-month period, the release stated.

County officials also urged residents to use the nonprofit group’s CyberTipline website to report suspected online crimes related to child sex abuse. 

John Shehan, senior vice president of the NCMEC’s Exploited Children Division, told a local news outlet that the group receives “anywhere from 80 to 100,000 reports a day related to individuals who are disseminating or trading child sexual abuse material.” 

Federal law requires U.S.-based electronic service providers report instances of apparent child pornography on their systems to the NCMEC. More than 1,400 companies are registered to submit reports via the CyberTipline and are also notified by NCMEC of suspected child sex abuse material on their servers. 

Commenting on the Hayes case, Shehan said: “Any time that we become aware of someone who’s in a position of trust, who is really a pillar of the community, someone you wouldn’t think would be actively engaged in this type of activity, it’s more disappointing than it is shocking.” 

The evidence against Hayes was presented to a Grand Jury in a case heard at the Circuit Court for Williamson County, Tennessee. Hayes is scheduled to appear before the court for an arraignment hearing on April 26. 

Freelance journalist Josh Shepherd writes on faith, culture, and public policy for several media outlets. He and his family live in the Washington, D.C. area.

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