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Crime & Courts

DeKalb pastor blames pop-up ads for child porn charges

Danielle Guerra - dguerra@shawmedia.com
Corey D. Butler (center) flanked by family and members of Jesus Is The Way Christian Center in DeKalb, walks out of the DeKalb County Courthouse in Sycamore after Butler's court appearance on Wednesday, June 3, 2015.  Butler was arrested April 28 after police said theyt found child pornography on a computer in his bedroom, court records show. He faces charges including possession of child pornography and dissemination of child pornography, according to court records. The most serious charges typically are punishable by six to 30 years in prison.
Danielle Guerra - dguerra@shawmedia.com Corey D. Butler (center) flanked by family and members of Jesus Is The Way Christian Center in DeKalb, walks out of the DeKalb County Courthouse in Sycamore after Butler's court appearance on Wednesday, June 3, 2015. Butler was arrested April 28 after police said theyt found child pornography on a computer in his bedroom, court records show. He faces charges including possession of child pornography and dissemination of child pornography, according to court records. The most serious charges typically are punishable by six to 30 years in prison.

DeKALB – A DeKalb pastor and former student mentor for DeKalb School District 428 said Wednesday that Internet pop-up ads were the reason authorities found images of child pornography on his computer.

After a brief court hearing Wednesday at which his case was continued until July 16, Corey Butler, pastor at Jesus is the Way Christian Center in DeKalb, and his attorney, Tom Benno, said that Butler would plead not guilty to charges including possession of child pornography and dissemination of child pornography. If convicted, he could face six to 30 years in prison.

“He admitted to being on the porno site, which is absolutely inappropriate because he’s a pastor,” Benno said outside court. “What I was led to believe is it was all pop-ups.”

DeKalb police arrested Butler, 34, on April 27. Police said officers with the Illinois Crimes against Children Task Force learned child pornography was being distributed from a computer at Butler’s address at the 600 block of Kent Road in DeKalb between Feb. 28 and March 2.

At the time, Butler was mentoring students at DeKalb High School as well as at the district’s middle schools. He has been barred from any involvement with children as a condition of his release while charges are pending against him, court officers said.

He has continued to preach to his congregation, however, he said.

DeKalb County Presiding Judge Robbin Stuckert, originally set Butler’s bond at $101,500, which would have required him to post $10,150 bail to be released.

Records show Butler was released April 30, however, after his bond was reduced to $10,000. He posted $1,000 bail and has been required to wear an electronic monitoring device. He also is barred from having any contact with children or using a computer, DeKalb County Assistant State’s Attorney Jessica Finley said.

Benno said he thought the judge’s ruling might indicate Butler’s innocence.

“For him to get a $10,000 debond, which means $1,000 and an ankle bracelet, it leaves me to believe that it’s not a slam-dunk case,” Benno said. “If he really was a predator, if he really was a pedophile, I wouldn’t have taken the case. But more importantly, the judge would not have let him out.”

In an interview with DeKalb police after his arrest, Butler admitted to possessing the material, as well as allowing others to view and download it, according to court records.

Butler said he now denies ever possessing or distributing child pornography, and admits only to visiting an adult porn site.

Aside from the possibility of pop-up ads, Benno said Butler might be the victim of a set-up.

“A lot of time there are stings,” he said. “There are also things called entrapment, where they go on the site, they pose as kids and the post stuff up there. All the person has to do is click once and they go, ‘We gotcha.’ ”

Butler was disqualified from running for the District 428 board in 2011 after stating his name as “Dr. Corey Butler” on his nominating papers.

Butler said he received a degree from Northern Illinois University, and master’s and doctorate degrees from New Song Christian University, although no information about a school with that name could be found online. NIU officials said they have no record of him receiving a diploma.

He said his degrees were earned through Open Door Church in Hammond, Indiana, which he said is run by a college accredited through another institution. Butler said he did not remember the name of the accrediting institution.

“My degrees are exclusively religious degrees,” Butler said. “They are for the purpose of ministry. I did not go to what some would call a ‘traditionally’ accredited university such as Northwestern or things of that nature.”

Butler explained he never received a diploma after never officially withdrawing from some classes in his final semester, which then lowered his GPA, he said.

“My NIU degree is a lot of pish-posh because I fulfilled all of the graduation requirements through NIU,” Butler said.

Butler oversees Jesus is the Way Christian Center, which meets at a Holiday Inn in DeKalb, as well as the Heritage Room at the Holmes Student Center at NIU.

Despite the charges against him, Butler continues to serve at the church regularly with full support from its church.

“I am still the senior pastor of my church and I am in the pulpit preaching on a Sunday-to-Sunday basis,” Butler said.

Five of members of Butler’s church, along with his mother, grandmother and grandfather, accompanied him to court Wednesday, where they all agreed they have supported the pastor in prayer and believe in his innocence.

Benno said he plans to review the evidence with a forensic pathologist.

“I’m sure that these will show horrific things, but what they’re going to have to show is that these horrific things can be traced all the way back to his computer and that he pressed it,” Benno said. “They have to prove that he did it – that he did it knowingly.”

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