SYCAMORE – As a potential trial nears for a DeKalb pastor facing child pornography charges, his lawyer is trying to keep evidence found on his client's computer out of the courtroom.
Bob Motta of Aurora-based Motta & Motta LLC filed a motion Wednesday to suppress evidence against Corey Butler, the 36-year-old pastor of Jesus Is The Way Christian Center in DeKalb.
Butler said he’s continued preaching to his congregation since his arrest April 27, 2015, on possession of child pornography and dissemination of child pornography charges. If convicted of the most serious charge, he could face up to 30 years in prison.
“Still pastoring. Everything is well,” Butler said Wednesday. “My congregation has been there every Sunday for the past two years.”
Motta said he’s confident that once Chief Judge Robbin Stuckert rules on his motion at a Jan. 4 hearing, a trial date will be set that day, as well.
Police said in court records that officers with the Illinois Crimes Against Children Task Force learned that child pornography was being distributed from a computer at Butler’s address in the 600 block of Kent Road in DeKalb between Feb. 28 and March 2, 2015.
The motion says Butler's computer was removed from the house and analyzed off-site, which the warrant did not authorize.
"As to the computers, the warrant, on its face, only authorized a search of defendant's residence and to search computers within the residence but not for the unfettered seizure of the computers to engage in further off-site forensic examination of the computers themselves," the motion reads.
The motion asserts that the state has the burden to show its right to the evidence collected.
Motta said he is not challenging the warrant served, though.
“Not per se,” Motta said. “At this point, the warrant on its face doesn’t seem to be defective.”
It’s the evidence collected he’s trying to suppress.
“Going in, they had an idea, or at least they thought, that they would find certain things on my client’s computer,” Motta said. “Five guys living in the house, there are multiple computers and multiple people with access to his computer. It’s not as clear-cut as the state wants it to seem.”
In an interview with DeKalb police after his arrest, Butler admitted to possessing the material and letting others view and download it, according to court records, but later denied ever possession or distributing child pornography. He admitted he’d visited an adult porn site and blamed Internet pop-up ads for the child pornography being on his computer.
Since Motta replaced Tom Benno as Butler’s lawyer in May, Stuckert has urged all parties to have a sense of urgency in getting the case to trial.
“We’re dealing with a very old case, so if there are going to be any other pretrial motions, we need to get them on file with dates, as well,” Stuckert said Wednesday.
“Presumably, we’ll set trial [Jan. 4], after the hearing,” Motta said outside the courtroom.
At the time of Butler’s arrest, he was mentoring students at DeKalb High School and the district’s middle schools. He has been barred from any involvement with children as a condition of his bond.
“With the passing of justice, you have to be patient and trust the process,” Butler said Wednesday. “That’s what I’m doing: trusting the process.”