The former leader of a Baptist church camp near St. Louis has been arrested for allegedly trying to coax girls to pose partly naked and soliciting a sex act from one of the young women, Columbia police said.
Aaron Niles, 20, of Waterloo, was arrested Tuesday on three counts of child pornography and one count of indecent solicitation of a child, police said.
Police said Niles — a member of First Baptist Church in Columbia — met at least one of his accusers during the summer of 2005 at the Super Summer Baptist Camp in Greenville, where he oversaw up to 10 teenagers as a volunteer team leader.
Niles later communicated with the accusers — who knew they were chatting with Niles — on the Internet using screen names such as "loverboyniles" and "godrocks30," Columbia Police Chief Joe Edwards said.
Investigators are asking parents whose children attended the Super Summer camp last year to check their children's computers for Niles' computer online user name to see if he had any contact with them.
Authorities allege that in April and May, Niles solicited girls younger than 18 to pose partially naked, and that he sought out a girl younger than 17 to perform a sex act.
Edwards said Niles is charged only with soliciting the girls to pose partially naked and for trying to get a sex act from one of the accusers. "We haven't charged him with actually doing those acts," Edwards said.
Investigators still were combing through Niles' computer, Edwards said, and "once we complete this, the potential for additional charges are there." He declined to specify what the investigation has turned up, saying only that "we were able to get enough to get charges against this individual and get word out to the public."
"The long-range goal is to charge him with every violation he has committed," Edwards said.
Police say church leaders have been aware of the allegations since earlier this year and limited Niles' contact with children. He has been allowed to continue attending services.
In a statement Tuesday, First Baptist Church's pastor, Jonathan Peters, said the allegations left the congregation "deeply saddened."
"We hurt for the families who have been hurt by this," the statement read. "We, as the leadership of this church family have done our best to both protect our church and to demonstrate compassion to everyone involved. We have sought to show love without leniency."
Niles is being held in the Monroe County Jail on $10,000 bond. He has an unpublished home telephone number in Waterloo.
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