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Thursday, October 29

Pastor Richard Patton of New Hope United Methodist Church Mecosta accused of child porn charge resigns from church

MECOSTA COUNTY, MI -- A pastor has resigned from his position at a Mecosta County church amid a criminal investigation that led to child pornography charges against him.
Richard Patton, 70, was music minister at New Hope United Methodist Church in Mecosta. He was hired in 2012.
Patton was placed on paid leave Sept. 24, at which time he made church leaders aware that he was the subject of a criminal investigation. He resigned Oct. 8.
He is charged in Walker District Court with two counts of using computers to commit a crime and two counts of possessing sexually abusive material involving children.
Police allege Patton searched for and viewed sexually abusive material involving children on the Internet. He allegedly admitted to typing the search entries that police found on the devices.
The investigation started after Patton brought a computer to the Best Buy store on Alpine Avenue in Walker for repairs. State police helped Walker detectives conduct forensic downloads of multiple devices in Patton's possession, including an Apple Macbook, iMac computer, iPhone and iPad.
In a statement, New Hope leaders said the allegations are "serious and troubling."
"The church takes the safety and well-being of those attending our church extremely seriously," the statement said.
Church leaders said they are cooperating with the investigation and are not aware of any criminal wrongdoing involving members of New Hope United Methodist Church.
Walker Police Chief Greg Long said there is no evidence that Patton was taking illegal photos, only possessing unlawful material.
A preliminary hearing in the case is scheduled for Nov. 3. Patton is free on $75,000 bond.

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