Former pastor convicted of possession of child pornography

Rick Haberland was arrested February 24, 2022, on suspicion of possession of child pornography...
Rick Haberland was arrested February 24, 2022, on suspicion of possession of child pornography and methamphetamine.(Outagamie County Jail)
Published: Aug. 15, 2022 at 11:22 AM CDT
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OUTAGAMIE COUNTY, Wis. (WBAY) - A former pastor has been convicted in a child pornography case in Outagamie County.

On Aug. 12, Rick Haberland pleaded no contest to four counts of Possession of Child Pornography and was found guilty. Nine additional counts of Possession of Child Pornography were dismissed but read into the record. A count of Possession of Methamphetamine was also dismissed but read in.

Sentencing is scheduled for Oct. 14.

Haberland served as pastor of Oneida United Methodist Church when he was arrested in February. Investigators acted on a tip from the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children.

The Wisconsin Department of Justice’s Division of Criminal Investigation received a tip from the center’s cyber tip-line. That led them to the church and a nearby home where the church pastor lives.

A criminal complaint says Haberland denied viewing child pornography and denied being sexually active or sexually interested in children. However, he admitted having at least 20 videos and photos of child pornography on his phone and setting up Zoom meetings to display child pornography.

Investigators say they found chat log records on Skype where Haberland said he liked “young boys only however I love abusing young girls.” Police also found a profile on his phone, which Haberland admitted he wrote, saying he was physically and sexually abused as a child. The profile says he is “an active pedophile” who’s molested children as young as 3 days old to 12 years old and his motto is “molest, abuse, rape & reuse.”

The Outagamie County Sheriff’s Office says it started its investigation last November. The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children’s received a tip that someone was using Microsoft’s Skype to share suspected images of child pornography. Subpoenas and search warrants eventually led to internet service at the address of Oneida UMC on County Highway TK and Skype messages to Haberland’s Yahoo email address.

Haberland was a reverend at the church for less than two years before his arrest. The Outagamie County Sheriff’s Office says he was previously the pastor of New Hope United Methodist Church in De Pere, Suring and Hickory UMC in Suring, Phillips UMC in Phillips, and Tabor UMC in Eden.

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