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Thursday, March 29, 2007                                                                                       View Comments

Youth pastor faces minimum 20-year sentence

A former self-described youth pastor pleaded no contest to 48 charges related to child pornography.

Paul Gagnon, 51, of Flint, Michigan, known to many as "Pastor Paul," faces an April 26 sentencing before Genesee Circuit Judge Archie L. Hayman.

"What Mr. Gagnon perpetrated on these children is deplorable," said Genesee County Prosecutor David Leyton, who also had a warning for others who might become involved in child porn.

"The message today is that if you chose to prey on children, you will be held accountable for your actions," he said.

Gagnon was allowed to plead no contest because of potential civil liability from victims. In all, he pleaded no contest to 36 counts carrying up to 20 years in prison, four 7-year felonies, seven 4-year felonies and one 2-year felony.

The charges are for eavesdropping, using a computer to commit a crime, manufacturing and possessing child porn, and child sexually abusive activity.

At the least, Gagnon faces up to 20 years in prison at sentencing. He could face up to 40 years if Hayman sentences him consecutively.

Officials found thousands of pictures and videos of child porn, some in Gagnon's computer and others in photo albums or on videotape.

The case began in July when the teen who lived with Gagnon at his 508 Leland St. residence found an elaborate spy camera system that led to Gagnon's bedroom.

He later found pictures in Gagnon's office of himself getting dressed and of Gagnon standing over him and taking pictures as he slept nude, among others. Those items were taken to Flint police, who arrested Gagnon in early August.

Gagnon is being held on a $180,000 cash bond in the Genesee County Jail awaiting sentencing.

Gagnon conducted a youth ministry aimed at disadvantaged teens.