EDWARDSVILLE — State's Attorney Tom Gibbons filed charges Thursday against an Alton man in connection with unauthorized cameras found at a Bethalto church on Christmas Eve.
Officers from the Bethalto Police Department responded to Zion Lutheran Church around 11 p.m. Dec. 24 following the discovery of several cameras throughout the church. They had been placed in several locations, including the changing area in the sacristy of the church.
David L. Von Bergen, 58, is now facing two counts of unauthorized video recording, a Class 3 felony; one count of conspiracy (obstructing justice), a Class 4 felony; and one count of unauthorized video recording, a Class A misdemeanor. Von Bergen currently serves as an elder with the church. Also being charged is Kale W. Hanson, 36, a pastor with Zion Lutheran who resides in Bethalto. He is being charged with one count of conspiracy (obstructing justice), a Class 4 felony.
Earlier in the evening, upon learning of the discovery of his cameras inside the church, Von Bergen attempted to retrieve the cameras. At that time, he was confronted by Hanson who, during the course of their conversation, agreed to destroy the memory cards to get rid of the evidence. Von Bergen was allowed to leave with his cameras and police were not called until later that evening. Upon learning of the incident, Bethalto officers took Von Bergen into custody at his home based upon probable cause, but he was released on bond on Dec. 26. The investigation, which has been difficult due to the loss of evidence, has continued since that time, and it has been determined that at least one minor was recorded in the changing area of the sacristy.
“It’s appalling to think that an individual would violate the sanctity of such a holy celebration and the dignity of a church community with such a despicable act,” Gibbons said. “Further, to think that someone in a position of authority chose to destroy evidence of the act — regardless of the motivation— is extremely disheartening.”
Gibbons thanked Assistant State's Attorneys Kathleen Nolan and Ali Foley with the Children’s Justice Division and officers with the Bethalto Police Department for their ongoing work on this case that resulted in Thursday’s charges. Additionally, he commended other members of church leadership at Zion Lutheran who aided police with the investigation, including assistance in identifying the minor involved. Gibbons stressed that the investigation is ongoing and that anyone with additional information should contact the Bethalto Police Department.
Maximum penalty for a Class 3 felony is 2-5 years in prison; maximum for a Class 4 felony is 1-3 years in prison; and up to one year in jail for a Class A misdemeanor conviction. Neither man is in custody at this time. Von Bergen’s bond was set at $250,000 by Circuit Judge Richard Tognarelli and Hanson’s bond is $50,000, also set by Tognarelli.
These charges, as well as the statements made herein, are based upon probable cause. The defendants are presumed innocent unless proven guilty.