Pastor to Remain Jailed in Sex Case

By Tresa Baldas
Kansas City Star
September 15, 2010

Concluding that a Lutheran pastor could be a danger to children and himself, a federal magistrate ordered Tuesday that the pastor remain jailed until trial on charges that he offered to be a sex coach for minor girls over the Internet.

William Bendert, 51, the head pastor of King of Kings Lutheran Church in Lake Orion, winked at his wife in a Detroit courtroom shortly before prosecutors argued against his release and explained his alleged online sex scheme.

Bendert's attorney cited his client's lack of a criminal record in an effort to convince U.S. Magistrate Virginia Morgan to release Bendert.

According to court documents, Bendert contacted undercover FBI agents who were posing online as mothers of young daughters and asked whether they were interested in having him sexually train the girls.

Using the screen name Billthebear99, Bendert typed in one chat room: "I have taught girls before ... always together with their moms ... you would have to be present with us," according to an FBI affidavit.

Bendert was arrested Friday as he walked to a room at a Red Roof Inn near I-75 and Rochester Road, where he had arranged to meet what he thought was an 11-year-old girl, according to Assistant U.S. Attorney Kevin Mulcahy. Agents said they seized sex toys from the trunk of his car, including handcuffs and a rope, and also found sex-related books from his church, Mulcahy said.

Mulcahy said authorities in Cleveland had investigated Bendert for similar crimes, and that Bendert has a two-year history of using the Internet to try to recruit young girls "for his own sexual desires."

Mulcahy said that after his arrest, Bendert "admitted that he knew that what he was doing was wrong."

In arguing for his release, Bendert's lawyer, David Burgess, stressed that Bendert has no previous criminal record, no history of drug abuse, and that he is a college-educated family man whose wife is standing by him. He also noted that, so far, no evidence of child pornography has been found on any of Bendert's computers.

"He's never been in any trouble, and he's never shown any kind of this behavior before," Burgess said.

Morgan, the magistrate, said that despite defense assertions, "I do have a concern about the safety of children."

She ordered him detained pending trial.

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