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Whited Sepulchers

Royse City pastor accused of possessing child porn is suspended
From staff and WFAA-TV reports

A pastor at First United Methodist Church of Royse City was suspended after being accused of possessing child pornography.

Rev. Steve Richardson was suspended from performing all ministerial duties, pending the outcome of the criminal investigation and any disciplinary action, the North Texas Conference of the United Methodist Church said Wednesday.

"The church holds the sanctity of the pastoral office and the place of the church as an environment of safety and security for all an absolute value, said the North Texas Conference of the United Methodist Church.

ICE agents took the Rev. Richardson into custody at the church Wednesday and seized his computer and other items.

Carl Rusnok, a spokesman for ICE in Dallas, declined to provide further details about the ongoing investigation. He said that U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement has an active Operation Predator program that investigates cases of child pornography when it crosses state or international borders.

News of the pastor's arrest stunned the more than 100 members who gathered at the church Wednesday night.

"If you'd have heard the groans and crying that went on when this was announced – it was shocking," church member Kat Elliott told WFAA-TV (Channel 8).

Mr. Richardson has been pastor at the church for two years. The church has put him on suspension.

"I've never seen anything since I've known Steven that would even hint at anything like this – never," church member Richard Davis said.

"It was devastating, heartbreaking," associate pastor Cathy Partridge told WFAA. "Just that we are going through something – whether it's true, whether it's not true – we have strong people, and they'll pull together."

Staff writers Blanca Cantu and Marissa Alanis contributed to this report.

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