COLUMBIA, Ill. (ABP) – A volunteer camp leader arrested for child pornography and indecent solicitation of a child met both of his victims through a camp sponsored by the Illinois Baptist State Association, according to police.
While no crime is alleged to have occurred at the association's Super Summer camp in June 2005, police are urging parents whose teenage children attended the camp to talk to their children and check their computers to see if the accused 20-year-old man, Aaron Niles of Waterloo, an Illinois suburb of St. Louis, had any contact with them. His screen names are loverboyniles and godrocks30.
“There may be no more victims; there may be 10 more victims,” Columbia Police Chief Joe Edwards said.
Niles allegedly made contact with the two girls at the IBSA-sponsored camp. Police say he communicated with the teens some time later on the Internet. He allegedly solicited the girls to pose for partially nude photos and to perform a sex act in April and May 2006, almost a year after the camp. All the abuse occurred over the Internet, police say; no sexual contact was involved.
Officials of First Baptist Church of Columbia, Ill., where Niles attended church, contacted police in June 2006 after learning of Niles' contact with the alleged victims. Although all three were affilated with the same church, the girls apparently were not acquainted with Niles before the camp. The church has been cooperating with the investigation since then, Edwards said.
The IBSA chose to contact less than one-fifth of the 67 churches that sent students to Super Summer in 2005, citing a concern to be “cautious without being unnecessarily alarming,” according to Marty King, IBSA associate executive director. Only churches that sent 13- and 14-year-old students were notified because Niles was the team leader for a group in that age range. Twenty-eight of camp's 210 students were 13- and 14-year-olds.
Most of the church contacts were made by phone in January, more than two weeks after the IBSA learned about the charges. King said a “handful” of pastors were notified before Christmas. Because Niles was in custody, IBSA officials didn't “feel a real urgency” to make calls sooner, he said.
However, Niles, who pleaded not guilty, was released after posting bond on Dec. 13, the day after his arrest, according to the Monroe County Circuit Clerk's office. He was charged with three counts of child pornography and one count of indecent solicitation of a child. A preliminary hearing has been set for Feb. 8.
Meanwhile, police are combing Niles' computer and continuing their investigation to see if additional charges are warranted. Parents can contact the Columbia Police Department at (618) 281-5151.
The IBSA holds its Super Summer camps at Greenville College, a Christian college in Greenville, Ill., about an hour from St. Louis.