Home Christian News NC Pastor Reported To Have Over 10K Child Sex Abuse Images on...

NC Pastor Reported To Have Over 10K Child Sex Abuse Images on Devices, Receives Federal Charge

Ashley James Crouse
Ashley James Crouse baptizes a boy in a video posted in 2018. Screenshot from YouTube / @DonaldBostic

A North Carolina pastor has received a federal charge of receipt of child pornography in addition to multiple previous charges of sexual exploitation of a minor in the second degree and the third degree. Ashley James Crouse, 52, had 10,000 images of child sex abuse material (CSAM) on devices including his church computer, according to an affidavit signed by an FBI special agent. 

Editor’s note: This article refers to reports of child sex abuse, which some readers might find triggering and/or disturbing.

“On or about November 2, 2023, in the Western District of North Carolina, ASHLEY JAMES CROUSE knowingly received child pornography, as defined in 18 U.S.C. § 2256(8),” said FBI Special Agent Richard A. Sutherland Jr., “specifically by using the Internet to download to his computer a video file depicting child pornography.”

Sutherland’s affidavit seeks to establish probable cause for the federal charge against Crouse.

Pastor Ashley James Crouse Admitted to Crimes, Says FBI Agent

Ashley James Crouse was arrested on Nov. 3, 2023, after investigators received a tip that led them to explore the source of CSAM stored in Dropbox. In April 2023, Dropbox alerted the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC) that one of its users possessed CSAM. The tip included Crouse’s name, email address, and several IP addresses.

RELATED: Arkansas Teacher Accused of Sexually Abusing 15-Year-Old Boy She Met Through Church Youth Group

NCMEC tipped off the North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation, which worked with the Caldwell County Sheriff’s Office to verify Crouse’s location and identity. Investigators surveilled Crouse and executed search warrants at his home and church, New Vision Baptist Fellowship (NVBF) in Granite Falls. Authorities seized several devices.

Sutherland states that Crouse waived his Miranda rights and spoke to investigators. “During this interview, which was recorded, CROUSE admitted to knowing what child pornography was, to obtaining child pornography from the Internet, and to using child pornography for sexual gratification,” Sutherland said. “CROUSE also admitted to viewing child pornography at the church while multi-tasking and completing church business on his church computer.”

The affidavit describes in detail a video downloaded to Crouse’s church office computer showing an 11-year-old girl participating in sexual acts with two different men. This video was accessed while logged into the “pastor” account.