Feds: Mich. pastor posed as teen to lure girls online

Mark Hicks
The Detroit News

A former Port Huron pastor is facing federal charges amid allegations he enticed underage girls to engage in sex acts online.

FBI agents learned about Jackie Douglas Woodburn’s virtual interactions while probing a chatroom-based website that attracts adult men who pose as youths “seeking to sexually exploit minor teenage and preteen girls,” according to a criminal complaint filed Tuesday in U.S. District Court.

Among the more than 50 victims whom authorities identified was a 13-year-old Texas girl who recalled chatting with someone she met online in 2016 using the handle “JD Walker” and claiming to be a teenager, the document said. He requested sexually explicit photos and asked her to perform similar acts on a web camera, she told officials in an interview.

Identifying Woodburn through his IP address and internet provider, investigators executed a search warrant in February at the 63-year-old’s St. Clair County home. Woodburn said he used the JD name on the website and sought teen girls there, the court filing claims.

One of the two computers that law enforcement seized from his residence revealed at least 70,000 Skype chat messages between “jd windwalker” and others — most appearing to be with minors, including the Texas teen, an FBI special agent wrote.

During an exchange recorded late on April 25, 2016, “jd” ordered the girl to expose and touch herself, the affidavit showed. When a storm cut electricity at Woodburn’s house, she apparently left.

“I’m really bummed out that we lost power….YOU are so very very beautiful and sexy….when you be home tomorrow after you home from school?????” he wrote, according to the message log agents obtained.

Federal authorities are charging Woodburn with producing child pornography as well as coercing a minor to engage in sexually explicit conduct.

Woodburn appeared in federal court in Detroit for a hearing Wednesday. Magistrate Judge Anthony Patti ordered him detained; a preliminary examination is scheduled for 1 p.m. May 23, court records show.

Reached Wednesday night, Gerry Mason, the attorney representing Woodburn, stressed the allegations have not been proven and “there is a lot of outstanding information out there that we don’t have” in the case.

“There’s a lot of work to be done,” he said. “This is very preliminary and very premature, and no one has been convicted of anything.”

Also known as Jack, Woodburn previously was associated with Port Huron’s Colonial Woods Missionary Church and directed its Christian counseling center, according to the church’s website. A biography posted there described him as a married father of three and Air Force veteran who was among only 60 people worldwide selected for a counseling enrichment program at Focus on the Family in 1991.

“My client is a very good person who took care of everyone else’s needs but his own,” Mason said.

Woodburn was an associate pastor at Colonial Woods before retiring earlier this year and attending another congregation, Senior Pastor Phil Whetstone told The Detroit News. Church staffers were unaware of the allegations until a TV station’s report Wednesday, he added.

“The nature of the allegations are devastating,” Whetstone wrote in an email. “Certainly our prayers are for any one victimized in such a manner. While authorities have not contacted Colonial Woods, we are open to being cooperative in any way possible so that truth would prevail.”