[Update: Timothy James Hallows has been charged with owning and distributing thousands of images of child pornography. Read the latest here.]
A bishop for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has been arrested, accused of owning and distributing thousands of images of child pornography — and investigators say they believe he may have sexually abused children on church-related camping trips.
Timothy James Hallows, 61, of Kaysville, was booked into the Davis County jail Wednesday evening and is being held without bail. He was arrested on suspicion of eight counts of sexual exploitation of a minor, a second-degree felony, with a possible sentence of one to 15 years in prison if he is charged and convicted.
According to a probable cause statement, it was a tip from Microsoft, which owns the video-chat app Skype, to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children that put investigators on Hallows’ trail. Microsoft told the center on Aug. 6 that a user it identified as Hallows had been using Skype to upload and distribute images of child porn.
Davis County investigators took the tip and, on Oct. 3, served a subpoena on Comcast that led to Hallows’ IP address and his home in Kaysville, the statement said. Investigators also followed three other cyber tips that traced back to Hallows.
On Wednesday, federal, state and local investigators with the Internet Crimes Against Children task force served a search warrant at Hallows’ residence, the statement said. Investigators said they found thousands of images of pornography, including images of child sexual abuse.
Hallows waived his Miranda rights against self-incrimination and talked to investigators, the statement said, admitting to distributing images of child sexual abuse over Skype and owning more than 100 such images.
Investigators said Hallows refused to take a polygraph test to answer questions about whether he had ever had sexual contact with young children. The statement said Hallows described taking pictures of children on camping trips he went on in his role as a Latter-day Saint bishop. The statement did not describe the photos.
The statement also said, “Hallows was told investigators believe that he has had sexual contact with children, he stated uh huh, and shook his head in affirmation.”
A judge in 2nd District Court in Farmington denied Hallows bail, deeming him a flight risk and “a substantial danger” to the community.
Hallows has served as a bishop in the Wellington Ward, or congregation, in Kaysville, according to a church website.
Eric Hawkins, a church spokesman, said Thursday that Hallows has been removed from any church positions that involve “close contact with youth or children."
“The allegations against this individual are serious and deeply troubling," Hawkins said in a statement. “The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has no tolerance for abuse of any kind, including child pornography, and teaches its members and leaders that such behavior is offensive to God and to his church. When local leaders learned of these allegations, this individual was immediately removed from any position that would place him in close contact with youth or children. This is done to ensure the safety of others and to allow this individual to address these serious allegations.”