WI Pastor Pleads Guilty to Attempted Sexual Exploitation of Minor He Met on a Mission Trip

A pastor from Green Bay, Wisconsin, has pleaded guilty to the attempted sexual exploitation of a minor he met on a mission trip in South America.

According to a press release by the Department of Justice, Gregory J. Haanstad, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Wisconsin, announced that Cory J. Herthel (40) of Green Bay, Wisconsin, will be sentenced to at least 15 years in federal prison on December 4, 2023.

Herthel will also be required to register as a sex offender under both state and federal law.

According to a plea agreement filed in the case, in May of 2023, Herthel’s church, Green Bay Seventh-day Adventist Church, reached out to the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) asserting that Hertel “possibly had been involved in an inappropriate sexual relationship with a minor living in Venezuela.”

Herthel admitted that he first met the child, who was begging on the street, while he was on a mission trip to Ecuador. Although the child and their mother returned to Venezuela, Hertel kept in contact with the child and sent them photos and videos of himself masturbating despite knowing that they were a minor.

Herthel also admitted to asking the child to send him images and masturbation videos and sending the child monetary payments through multiple online applications.

In a statement posted to the Green Bay Seventh-day Adventist website, the church announced that Herthel was fired as a pastor and his ministerial credentials and ordination would be revoked, preventing him from serving with the denomination in the future.

“The Wisconsin Conference is deeply saddened by this abhorrent situation and is praying both for the victim and any others affected by the pastor’s actions. Their hope is that their prompt actions, upon first learning of the serious allegations, may have prevented further harm,” the church stated.

The investigation into Herthel’s crimes was carried out by the Green Bay and Milwaukee offices of the FBI, with the assistance of the Green Bay Police Department. It was also conducted on behalf of Project Safe Childhood, an initiative launched by the DOJ in 2006 to combat the exploitation and abuse of children.

Photo courtesy: ©Getty Images/Rattankun Thongbun

Milton Quintanilla is a freelance writer and content creator. He is a contributing writer for Christian Headlines and the host of the For Your Soul Podcast, a podcast devoted to sound doctrine and biblical truth. He holds a Masters of Divinity from Alliance Theological Seminary.