David L. Von Bergen will likely celebrate his 70th birthday at the bottom of the state prison's social strata. Sex criminals, especially sex criminals who preyed on children, tend not to do well in prison.
The irony is that convicts are not good at trust and forgiveness, when those are the very tools that Von Bergen used to make child porn as an elder at Zion Lutheran Church in Bethalto.
The 60-year-old was just sentenced to 15 years for taking video of children and adults changing and in the bathroom. He exploited an assistant pastor's trust to destroy some evidence. He passed his proclivities on to his namesake.
Sign Up and Save
Get six months of free digital access to Belleville News-Democrat
Although disturbing, maybe for the sake of your children and your faith it might be worthwhile to think like a child predator. In discussing why churches draw so many sexual deviants, former FBI agent and profiler Joe Navarro offers insight about how to do that.
A predator wants access. Church gives a predator scheduled times when children will be around. It gives an opportunity to grow trust that will bring additional access.
A predator wants knowledge about potential victims. Church is where people expose their weaknesses. Church is where people seek support. Predators can exploit the church gossip or overt expressions of vulnerability to figure out who might be a likely victim and how to lure them.
A predator wants to get away with it. Churches are in the faith and forgiveness business. Exploit those when you get caught, and you are free to seek more victims or to move on to another flock.
People tend to trust authority, especially religious authority. People tend to ignore or excuse evidence of a sexual transgression as an isolated incident or stress related or Satan's influence.
Not only did Von Bergen carefully plot to victimize the church family, his perversions manifested in a son who was molesting children and videotaping the acts. David J. Von Bergen was just sentenced to 80 years.
Predators tend to be good at manipulating people, whether that be a potential victim or a suspicious parent. Sometimes they form alliances with another predator to increase access or protection.
Think like they do, and maybe you'll see through the serpent's lies.