Prosecutors have filed to seize the home of David Von Bergen Sr. in the wake of the child pornography charges pending against him.
Von Bergen, 60, faces at least 23 charges alleging that he secretly filmed adults and children in the bathrooms and changing areas of Zion Lutheran Church in Bethalto. Clergy and staff members at Zion Lutheran found surveillance cameras hidden in the building on Christmas Eve 2015. They contacted the police, who searched the building and found cameras in several areas, including the changing area of the sacristy.
An elder of the church, Von Bergen was charged at the time with felony unauthorized recording and obstruction of justice. A year later, forensic examination of cameras and equipment led to an additional 21 charges, including production and possession of child pornography, unauthorized videotaping of children and adults in restrooms and under the clothing, as well as the previous charges.
The Madison County State’s Attorney’s office filed motions Friday to seize the Von Bergen house on Elmwood Drive in rural Alton. The home is owned by Von Bergen and his wife, Susan Von Bergen, and is not currently mortgaged.
Never miss a local story.
Von Bergen is currently in custody at the Madison County Jail; Susan Von Bergen is believed to be living in the home at this time. The phone listing for the Von Bergens has been disconnected.
Prosecutors maintain that David Von Bergen possessed and maintained images at his home of child pornography and his alleged hidden-camera images of children from the church.
The filing states that Susan Von Bergen is a joint owner of the property, and “knew or should have known of the illegal activity taking place at the property.” According to the filing, while conducting a search officers overheard Von Bergen tell his wife that “they found the child porn, and I don’t know what else.”
Under Illinois law, if committing or promoting child pornography took place on the property, it is subject to forfeiture to the state. As a civil action, it does not have to wait until Von Bergen goes to trial on the criminal charges, according to Madison County State’s Attorney Tom Gibbons.