Former Bethalto church elder faces 21 additional child porn charges
The man accused of planting surveillance cameras in a Bethalto church around Christmas Eve joined his son in the Madison County jail on Friday morning.
David L. Von Bergen, 59, was charged Thursday with videotaping a 13-year-old girl and a 63-year-old man and then conspiring to destroy evidence with Zion Lutheran Church assistant pastor Rev. Kale W. Hanson. On Friday, Von Bergen found himself behind bars with his son, David J. Von Bergen, who was already in jail awaiting trial on 10 charges of child pornography and six counts of predatory criminal sexual assault.
The son, David J. Von Bergen, 35, is accused of engaging in sex acts with an 8-year-old girl. He is also accused of keeping computer files of child pornography.
The cases are not connected, said Madison County State’s Attorney Tom Gibbons.
The younger Von Bergen has been represented by Edwardsville attorney David Fahrenkamp.
“I represent the son, not the father,” Fahrenkamp said. “To the best of my knowledge, these cases are not connected.”
Police were called after several video cameras were discovered around the church, including a dressing room, on Christmas Eve, Gibbons said.
“It’s awful. It’s sad,” Gibbons said. “For someone to do this on Christmas Eve, a special day in this church ... The members of this church have my prayers.”
The investigation into whether others were videotaped without their knowledge continues, Gibbons said Friday. Several congregation members have come forward with information, Gibbons said.
He encouraged anyone to report any suspicious activity to police.
According to court records, the younger Von Bergen was previously convicted of possession of child pornography in 2001 when he was serving in the U.S. Air Force. He was sentenced to 28 months confinement, demoted and dishonorably discharged.
The older Von Bergen serves as an elder for the church.
On Dec. 24, upon learning that the cameras had been discovered in the church, police said Von Bergen attempted to remove them and was confronted by Hanson. Investigators allege that Hanson agreed to destroy the memory cards of the cameras and allowed Von Bergen to leave with the cameras.
Hanson could not be reached for comment Friday, and no one answered the door at his home. Hanson, charged with obstructing justice, was not in custody as of Friday.
Efforts are being made to recover computer evidence, Gibbons said. Gibbons declined to say whether the FBI would assist in trying to recover damages computer files.
“We have many friends who help us,” Gibbons said.
Madison County Circuit Judge Richard Tognarelli set Von Bergen’s bail at $250,000 and Hanson’s at $50,000.
There is a school affiliated with the church, but Gibbons said there is no evidence that any videotaping occurred at the school.
The older Von Bergen was employed at Emerson Electric in the information technology department. An Emerson spokesman said Friday that he was no longer employed with the company but would not say when he left.