Charges: Cottage Grove pastor had thousands of pornographic images of children

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William Helker | Pine County Jail

A Cottage Grove pastor has been charged after police found thousands of sexually explicit images and videos of minors on his computers.

William Helker, 47, of Pine City was arrested on Wednesday after authorities searched his home during a child pornography investigation.

On Oct. 21, the BCA Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force received CyberTip reports from Facebook and Instagram.

According to the criminal complaint, Facebook reported that Helker used e-mail accounts associated with and He also had the names “Will Schank” and “Leonard Will,” on an Instagram account.

The BCA found a conversation between Helker and a man who lived in Helsinki, Finland. In the conversation, Helker asks the man to trade images of preteen and teens girls, and then they exchanged images.

On Oct. 26, Helker admitted to the BCA that he had pornographic images involving minors. He said the images were on his laptop and phone. He said he had thousands of pornographic images and videos of children under the age of 18. Helker also admitted to sending the images through social networking sites.

Helker told the BCA he took innocent photos of children that were at All Saints Lutheran Church events or members of the church and then would take some of those images and photoshop them to create a pornographic image.

Helker’s image was removed from the All Saints Lutheran Church website sometime on Thursday.

He’s been charged with six counts of possession of pornography involving minors.