A Lancaster County youth Pastor has recently been arrested for the possession and distribution of child pornography, Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro said.
Brandon Dasilva, 26, is a pastor of student ministries for Weaverland Anabaptist Faith Community Church in East Earl.
He was arrested Monday and is being charged with four counts of sexual abuse of children for distributing child pornography, 26 counts of sexual abuse of children for possession of child pornography, and one count of criminal use of a communication facility, Pennsylvania Real-Time News wrote.
"The defendant was trusted as a faith leader for young people in Lancaster, but out of the public eye was exploiting children," Shapiro said. "Brandon Dasilva undermined the authority placed in him by his community and betrayed the trust of the young people who believed in him. We will continue to work to protect children and hold those who abuse them accountable."
According to Fox43, the investigation on Dasilva began in April 2020, when an agent with Homeland Security Investigation and the office of attorney general Child Predator Section found an account on Kik, a social media app, with several images of suspected child pornography.
The investigators traced the IP address of the account and it led to Dasilva's home in Lancaster County, according to the affidavit filed against Dasilva.
Shapiro and federal agents arrested Dasilva after conducting a search at his home Monday wherein they uncovered a number of images and videos of child pornography on his electronic devices.
Dasilva, who was present at that time, allegedly admitted that he had been viewing such contents for about a year and a half, the complaint says. He told investigators that he was ashamed and he "hated himself" for displaying such behavior.
Lead Pastor of Weaverland Anabaptist Community Brian Martin posted this statement on the church's website:
"It is with deep sadness that I share with you a situation that came to our attention on February 22. Pastor of Student Ministries, Brandon Dasilva, has been charged by the state's Office of Attorney General with possession and distribution of child pornography.
Effective February 22, Mr. Dasilva's credential was suspended and employment was suspended without pay pending the outcome of the charges.
We are deeply grieved by the allegations and those potentially harmed by Mr. Dasilva. We are cooperating fully with the state's attorney's office and the ongoing investigation.
We are not aware that any of the alleged victims were affiliated with Weaverland Anabaptist Faith Community; however, we encourage anyone with additional relevant information to contact the authorities.
We are availing counseling to those impacted by these shocking charges. We remain committed to the safety and wellbeing of our children, students, and families in all our ministries. We invite your prayers on behalf of the many hurting persons in this hour."
The case is, however, still being prosecuted by Deputy Attorney General David Drumheller. As of now, charges are mere accusations and defendant Dasilva is innocent unless and until proven guilty.