Feds: Valpo Child Enticer Was Catholic Priest

By Dan Hinkel
August 31, 2009

Suspect was also once Red Cross executive director in Merrillville

HAMMOND | A 68-year-old Valparaiso man charged with sexually enticing a 15-year-old boy was once a Catholic priest, federal prosecutors say.

Wayne E. Wigglesworth was a priest in Maryland decades ago, court personnel said Monday morning before a hearing in Hammond federal court. Assistant U.S. Attorney Jill Trumbull-Harris told Magistrate Judge Andrew Rodovich the investigation into Wigglesworth's past continues.

Rodovich rejected defense attorney John Martin's request Wigglesworth be released on bond. Martin suggested his client could be electronically monitored and cut off from online communications. Martin argued Wigglesworth, because of his alleged child sex crime, could face a "very real danger" in jail. Rodovich accepted Trumbull-Harris' argument Wigglesworth could be a danger to children.

Wayne Wigglesworth was once executive director of the American Red Cross' Merrillville unit, and his wife, JoAnn Wigglesworth, was the program director for Boys and Girls Clubs of Northwest Indiana's Lake Station unit, according to Times archives. Federal prosecutors say Wayne Wigglesworth's wife now lives in a nursing home.

Wayne Wigglesworth, of Valparaiso, was arrested Aug. 17 when Chicago police pulled him over for an alleged unsignaled lane change moments after he picked up the 15-year-old boy at 60th Street and Rockwell Avenue in the Chicago Lawn neighborhood, according to an Immigration and Customs Enforcement agent's report. Chicago police told the agent Wigglesworth couldn't explain why the 15-year-old boy was in his car.

Once police pulled the two out of the car, the boy told officers he met Wigglesworth on a few weeks prior and the two talked on the phone and exchanged text messages, the agent wrote. On Aug. 14, Wigglesworth sent a text message arranging a meeting Aug.17, the agent wrote.

Prosecutors claim that on the day of that meeting, Wigglesworth called the boy and suggested they could have oral sex and "hold and hug" each other.

Trumbull-Harris also said Monday that Valparaiso police warned Wigglesworth in February about text messages he allegedly sent to a 9-year-old-boy. Wigglesworth met the boy at a party related to the nursing home that houses Wigglesworth's wife, Trumbull-Harris said. Before the police and the boy's father confronted Wigglesworth, Wigglesworth asked the boy if he had started puberty, Trumbull-Harris said.

Federal authorities ask anyone with information on Wigglesworth to call local Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents at (219) 937-5636.

Contact: (219) 852-4317

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