Former Rochester Youth Pastor Arrested for Child Porn
By Kay Fate
March 27, 2014
The arrest of a man in Missouri has church officials in Rochester answering questions about their former youth pastor.
Matthew D. Luetke, 35, was associate pastor at Ascension Evangelical Lutheran Church from 2006-2013. He was the youth and evangelism minister and, as such, was also the principal of Precious is the Child Preschool associated with the church.
"It's been a rotten week," said Brian Kom, lead pastor of Ascension Lutheran. He learned of Luetke's arrest in St. Charles County on March 19.
"I received word the day Matt was arrested," Kom said. He called an emergency meeting with the council members and elders of the church to discuss the allegations.
According to court documents, the St. Charles County Cyber Crime Task Force searched a home in St. Charles, Mo., for evidence of child pornography after an investigation that began in December, when undercover detectives began trading child porn with him.
Authorities found nine computer images of young girls between the ages of 9 and 13 in various poses and exposing themselves.
Prosecutors said the homeowner, Luetke, confessed to being the sole operator of the computer. He allegedly admitted the pornography had been a problem since 2004, telling investigators he preferred girls 11-13 years old.
He was charged with felony promoting child pornography; he remains in custody in lieu of $100,000 bond.
Kom immediately called the Rochester Police Department, which directed him to call law enforcement officials in Missouri.
Local officers picked it up the computer Luedtke used, which had content-filtering software. Kornhasn't heard if anything was found on the computer, but those forensic analyses can often take months.
More than the legalities, Kom said, "we don't want to sweep anything under the rug, and we've said it over and over, there can be no secrets at all. I've told everybody, if there's any questions, call me. I've been on the phone solid for a week, and that's what has to be done."
A letter was sent Saturday to everyone in the congregation; on Wednesday, a letter was sent to every preschool family from the last eight years.
In addition, Kom made a lengthy announcement at church last Sunday.
"I've been trying really hard to emphasize, if there was something — and I'm sure there wasn't and I'm praying that there wasn't — but if there's any concerns, call the police," he said.
Kom said the overwhelming reaction has been one of shock; Luetke was well-liked, he said.
More importantly, "I'm hearing that (parents) are confident their children have been safe" while at the church and school.
Kom said the pre-school teacher during Luetke's time as principal at Precious is the Child "could think of no time that he was alone with any children. His involvement was a chapel service, twice a month, and both teachers would be there. Having said that, we haven't heard any concern that something happened."
Luetke told police he had exposed himself and allowed his genitals to be touched by female relatives when they were pre-school age when the family was living in Wisconsin and Minnesota between 2004 and 2008, the criminal complaint says.