Recent reports that a Twin Cities youth pastor was charged with trying to solicit nude photos from girls ages 13 to 15 via social media sites serve as a reminder that churches and other organizations that work with youth have a long way to go regarding protecting minors from adult predators.
Matthew T. Boos, 24, of St. Louis Park, Minn., a youth pastor at River Valley Church in Savage, Minn., was charged Monday with two felonies related to soliciting sexual conduct with a minor via electronic communications. He allegedly posed as a 15-year-old girl on Facebook and other sites and solicited girls he met via his job as youth pastor at River Valley Church. Boos told investigators that the girls did not know they were actually communicating with Boos, who asked at least one of the victims questions of a sexual nature and asked to exchange nude photos.
River Valley Church officials say they’ve fired Boos in the wake of the charges and that Boos, who worked at the church for three years, passed a background check. But Boos admitted to investigators that he struggled with pornography since high school and that he created the fake personas secretly. The question remains if the Church could have done more to keep kids safe from this predator.
The charges involve a girl from Pope County, Minn., but investigators believe there may be other victims of Boos’ misconduct. Luckily, the girl’s mother found out about Boos’ contact with her daughter and showed investigators her daughters’ alleged Facebook messages with Boos. Tighter parental control of children’s social media usage is also important in identifying, stopping and catching pedophiles today.
Investigators urge victims or parents who believe Boos solicited their child to contact local law enforcement agencies.
Jeff Anderson is an attorney and advocate working with survivors of clergy sexual abuse at Jeff Anderson & Associates.