Former Mormon Church Leader Federally Indicted for Child Porn
By Christine Byers
March 5, 2020
The attorney for a former Mormon church leader said Wednesday that his client was never a bishop and that the federal child pornography charges he is now facing are the result of a "very unique situation," between the alleged 16-year-old victim's family and his client's.
Larry Deutsch, 54, appeared with his attorney, Gregory Wittner, Friday before U.S. Magistrate Judge Shirley Padmore Mensah wearing an orange prison sweatshirt and pants with his legs and hands shackled.
St. Charles County Prosecutor Tim Lohmar charged Deutsch with child pornography on Feb. 21. St. Charles County police described Deutsch as a bishop of a Mormon church in the Lake St. Louis area in court documents.
Police also said they had reason to believe Deutsch might have other victims because he had unsupervised contact with children as a part of his leadership and service activities at various churches throughout St. Charles County and Troy, Missouri.
Deutsch's attorney said Wednesday "there are absolutely no other victims."
"He didn't use his involvement with the church for any wrongdoing," he said. "This has nothing to do with his involvement in the scouts.”
"Despite the very serious nature of the charges, he is not an individual lurking in the shadows of the internet looking to entice a victim or hiding in the bushes at a playground. This is a very unique situation between Mr. Deutsch and his family and her family and the church in terms of how they met. This is a very different case in terms of how he's been portrayed as a pedophile grooming young people."
Deutsch waived his right to a detention hearing Wednesday, which means he will remain incarcerated until his trial.
"We wanted to get more of the evidence and review the discovery," Wittner said as the reason for waiving the hearing.
The victim's parents listened to Wednesday's hearing on a speaker phone and had submitted a statement they wanted to read opposing Deutsch's release had the judge proceeded with the hearing.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Jillian Anderson said she was pleased Deutsch waived his hearing and that he would remain incarcerated. She said she would keep the statement from the victim's parents should the potential for his release happen again.
"We certainly believe he needs to remain incarcerated," she said.
The federal indictment supersedes the St. Charles County charges but contains the same allegations of child pornography.
According to those court documents, Deutsch met the victim while he was serving as the bishop for a Mormon church in the St. Charles County area. Two years ago, the girl moved away to Arizona with her family but kept in contact with Deutsch through text messages and emails.
Beginning in October 2019, the girl began sending nude images of herself to Deutsch and he sent nude images of himself to her. The girl told authorities that Deutsch was her boyfriend and they planned to get married in May 2021.
The girl’s parents became aware of the relationship between Deutsch and the girl and obtained an Order of Protection against Deutsch in November 2019.
On Feb. 18, Deutsch flew to Arizona to meet up with the girl. According to court documents, Deutsch bought the girl an SUV and they drove back to St. Louis together. They arrived at a south St. Louis apartment the next day.
On Feb. 19, The St. Charles Police Department was contacted by authorities in Arizona to assist in locating the missing girl.
When police went to his Lake St. Louis house, a detective told Deutsch's wife that he wanted to make sure the victim was safe, and she responded, "she is." She then offered to drive her husband to the St. Charles County Detective Bureau and "got nervous," according to court documents.
"Larry looked at his wife and told her he did not want her to get drug into this and asked her to leave the room," according to the documents.
Deutsch told officers the girl was at an apartment but refused to reveal its location. Instead, he called the victim and told her to meet him at a restaurant. The girl was taken into custody until her parents came to get her.
On Feb. 20, officials got a search warrant for Deutsch’s laptop that was seized the day before. Officials found 20 images of child pornography on his laptop.
Deutsch posted his $100,000 cash-only bail but was taken back into custody when he was federally indicted Feb. 27.
Anyone who has any information about this incident or who may be a victim should call 636-949-3002.