Metro-East News

Madison County child porn producer gets 80 years

David J. Von Bergen
David J. Von Bergen

When police served a search warrant on David J. Von Bergen’s Godfrey home on Sept. 5, 2014, a detective said Von Bergen was just getting out of the shower, but the computer in the living room was downloading child pornography.

A preliminary search turned up two videos made by Von Bergen, 36, with two young girls.

A more extensive search found videos depicting graphic sexual acts between Von Bergen and two sisters, ages 7 and 8, who called him “Uncle David.”

Von Bergen faced 180 years in prison after pleading guilty to two counts of child pornography and two counts of predatory criminal sexual assault.

On Friday, Von Bergen was sentenced to 80 years in prison by Madison County Judge Neil Schroeder.

Schroeder sentenced Von Bergen to 25 years on each of the two counts of predatory criminal sexual assault. He must serve 85 percent before he’s eligible for release.

Schroeder sentenced Von Bergen to 15 years for each of the child porn charges. He must serve 50 percent of each sentence. All those sentences will rein consecutively. In all, Von Bergen must serve 57 years before he is eligible with release.

The victims’ father called Von Bergen’s behavior “sickening and revolting,” in a statement read during the sentencing.

The victims’ mother wrote that she shared details of her abuse with Von Bergen and expressed sadness and disbelief that he would sexually abuse her children.

Some of those videos made by Von Bergen were uploaded to the Internet for others to view and download, according to Madison County Sheriff’s Lt. David Vucich.

Vucich described the videos found on Von Bergen’s computers under questioning by Assistant State’s Attorney Kathleen Nolan.

“That will always be out there,” Nolan said. “There is a permanent record of their abuse.”

Von Bergen’s defense attorney David Fahrenkamp asked Schroeder to show mercy.

“David Von Bergen is sick. He needs help. He needs counseling,” Fahrenkamp said.

Fahrenkamp noted that Von Bergen cooperated with the investigation and accepted responsibility by pleading guilty and forfeiting his home and car.

“He’s on the road to redemption,” Fahrenkamp said.

Von Bergen declined to make a statement.

Earlier in the sentencing hearing, Nolan asked Schroeder to watch the videos made by Von Bergen of him engaged in sexual acts, including penetration, with two juvenile girls.

The probative value of viewing the videos, Fahrenkamp argued, would be outweighed by the possible prejudice.

Schroeder declined to watch the videos, saying the elements of the crime that Von Bergen pleaded guilty to were sufficient for sentencing.

Von Bergen was previously convicted of child pornography in 2001 when he was serving in the U.S. Air Force. He was required to register as a sex offender.

“This was a really horrible case,” said Madison County State’s Attorney Tom Gibbons, who attended the sentencing. “We just hope and pray that somehow, some way these girls will be OK.”

Von Bergen’s father, David L. Von Bergen, was charged with unauthorized videotaping at Zion Lutheran Church in Bethalto. Prosecutors said the senior Von Bergen, who was an elder in the church, set up a hidden camera in the changing area for young altar servers.

His case is still pending. He attended the sentencing for his son.

Beth Hundsdorfer: 618-239-2570, @bhundsdorfer