MONTGOMERY COUNTY, Pa. (WHTM) — A former minister at the Unitarian Church of Harrisburg was among five people arrested by Montgomery County officials after allegedly using social media to attempt to solicit sex from minors.
In a statement Friday, the president of the board of trustees for the Unitarian Church of Harrisburg confirmed that David Kohlmeier was a minister at the church and has since been relieved of his duties.
According to a Thursday release from the office of the Montgomery County district attorney, detectives affiliated with Pennsylvania Internet Crimes Against Children (ICAC) and members of the Montgomery County Detective Bureau developed a proactive effort to protect children by identifying and arresting people who use social media to arrange to meet and have sexual relations with minors.
Last week, the release from the district attorney’s office says, an undercover operation took place on multiple social media platforms, and during that operation, five suspects allegedly independently engaged in “extensive” online and text communication with undercover detectives who were posing as a 14-year-old girl or a 14-year-old boy.
“They engaged in sexually explicit electronic communications with a person they believed was a minor child, and some of them also sent sexually explicit photos to the purported 14-year-old. Each of the five defendants then appeared at an agreed-upon meeting location in Conshohocken with the intent of having sexual relations with the minor child,” the release says.
Kohlmeier was arrested on Sept. 16 and charged with felony contact with a minor — sexual offense, attempted involuntary deviate sexual intercourse, attempted statutory sexual assault, attempted aggravated indecent assault, and criminal use of a communications facility, as well as related misdemeanor charges, according to the district attorney’s office.
Kohlmeier posted bail and was released. His preliminary hearing is scheduled for Sept. 28, the district attorney’s office reports.
David Spear, president of the board of trustees for the Unitarian Church of Harrisburg, shared the following statement on Friday:
“The Unitarian Church of Harrisburg is an inclusive and accepting place of worship for anyone seeking to explore their spirituality in safety. We are shocked by the charges pending against David Kohlmeier. The alleged actions are antithetical to our beliefs and do not represent this church or its congregation. David Kohlmeier served as our minister for the past year and has been relieved of all duties. In the event that Mr. Kohlmeier is released on bail, he will not be permitted on church property. Our compassion and concern go out to all victims and survivors of sexual trauma, and we are committed to maintaining a safe environment for our community. We sincerely hope for a just and equitable resolution to this situation, and that all affected are able to find peace and healing.”
Others arrested in the operation were Onesimo Rodriguez Campos, 27, of Norristown; Allan R. Lattanzi, 57, of Lower Providence; Kenneth Sugalski, 49, of Conshohocken; and Ashish Verma, 37, of Norristown.