6 September 2023 |
On August 31, 2023, Cory J. Herthel, a 40-year-old Adventist pastor from Green Bay, Wisconsin, pleaded guilty to attempted sexual exploitation of a minor, according to a report by the Eastern District of Wisconsin Attorney’s office. The plea comes after an investigation triggered by the church, which alerted the FBI about a possible inappropriate relationship between Herthel and a minor living in Venezuela, originally reported by AToday here. According to the plea agreement, Herthel exchanged sexually explicit videos and images with the minor, whom he had met on a mission trip.
The case was part of Project Safe Childhood, a Department of Justice initiative aimed at combating child sexual exploitation and abuse. Launched in May 2006, the program coordinates efforts between federal, state, and local agencies to locate and prosecute individuals who exploit children online and to identify and rescue victims. This specific case was investigated by the Green Bay and Milwaukee offices of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), in collaboration with the Green Bay Police Department. Prosecution is being handled by Assistant United States Attorney Daniel R. Humble.
During the investigation, Herthel acknowledged that he had both sent and received sexually explicit material from the minor, confirming the evidence presented against him. He also admitted to sending the minor monetary payments through online platforms. The U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Wisconsin, Gregory J. Haanstad, announced that Herthel will be sentenced on December 4, 2023, and is expected to serve a minimum of 15 years in federal prison. He will also be required to register as a sexual offender.