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Posted on Thu. Oct. 04, 2012 - 12:30 am EDT

Judge rules youth-group director to stay in jail

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FORT WAYNE — A 34-year-old former Youth for Christ worker will remain in jail as a federal child pornography case against him progresses.

On Wednesday afternoon, Nathan B. Hasty of Huntington appeared in U.S. District Court in Fort Wayne where a magistrate judge determined whether there was enough evidence for his arrest and whether he could be released from jail.

Hasty was, until late last month, a Fort Wayne Area Youth for Christ worker serving as the Campus Life director at Huntington County’s two middle schools, Crestview and Riverview.

According to court documents, Hasty used fake Facebook profiles to target young boys who were members of his youth group, persuading them to send him pornographic photographs and videos.

He was arrested last week on federal charges of receiving and possessing child pornography. Since news of his arrest broke, two additional families have come to the Fort Wayne office of the FBI to discuss their children’s involvement with Hasty, Assistant U.S. Attorney Leslie Miller Lowery said during Wednesday’s hearing.

Lowery also argued that Hasty remains a danger to the community and even though his parents have offered to let him live with them while the case proceeds, there is nothing that can be done outside of jail to keep the community safe.

“He is properly thought of as a wolf in lamb’s clothing,” Lowery said. “The very thing that makes him appear trustworthy makes him a danger.”

According to court documents, Hasty pretended, in two fake Facebook accounts, to be a 16-year-old girl and messaged dozens of young boys in his local youth group. Hasty, posing as a teen girl, flirted with the boys to gain their trust and then talked sexually to them – asking the boys about their genitals, whether they liked to skinny dip and the color of their underwear.

Hasty then would ask for pictures of the boys, both partially clothed and nude. He also asked them to engage in one-way webcam sessions. In one of Hasty’s email accounts, investigators found a video of a young boy performing a sex act, according to court documents.

In one of the Facebook accounts he set up, Hasty used a photograph of an actual teenage girl who was a student at a local high school, Lowery said. Hasty preyed on the children entrusted to him, Lowery said, then turned around and portrayed himself in a spiritual role to them.

Any sexual exploitation is bad, Lowery said, but within the spectrum of sexual exploitation, preying on children known to him is a particularly egregious breach of trust, she said. Hasty’s attorney, Matt Grantham, conceded that there was probable cause sufficient to lead to Hasty’s arrest, which limited the need of federal prosecutors to go into additional details about the case during Wednesday’s hearing.

Grantham said Hasty’s parents were willing to let him live with them and were willing to eliminate all electronic devices that could connect to the Internet from their home.

But Lowery urged Cosby to keep Hasty behind bars.

“This is a crime that can be committed from one’s couch,” she said. “You cannot properly supervise a grown man without the benefit of a locked penal facility.”

She also argued that because Hasty’s alleged victims were members of the community where he lives, and where he is known, Hasty himself could be in danger from possible retaliation.

After hearing the arguments and taking a brief recess, Cosby granted the government’s request to keep Hasty locked up.

In his order, Cosby said that the evidence against Hasty appears strong.

“Moreover, the means by which the defendant carried out his scheme for the receipt of such material evinces a cunning deception of children with whom he had gained some trust,” Cosby wrote. “This ability to craft such a scheme suggests that the defendant could, and likely would, employ other means to receive and possess similar material, all beyond the court’s ability to monitor such behavior.”

Hasty’s next scheduled court appearance is this month, when he will be formally arraigned on the charges and enter a preliminary plea.

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