A South Jersey youth pastor and teacher faces criminal charges after he allegedly blackmailed teenage boys into performing sex acts on themselves for his enjoyment.
Burlington County Prosecutor’s Office charged Sean Higgins, 30, with 28 counts related to child abuse material, including six counts of Manufacturing Child Sexual Abuse Material and Distribution of Child Sex Abuse Material.
Prosecutors said Higgins made Snapchat and Instagram profiles under the alias Julie Miller, using a photo of an unidentified teenage girl to build a relationship with his victims.
He befriended six male victims, age ranging from 12 to 15 years old residing in New Jersey, Pennsylvania, South Dakota and Alabama.
Higgins would allegedly tell the boys to swap nude photos with him, but as soon as he receives the explicit image, he would reveal his true identity and threaten the victim to expose the explicit image.
“When a boy would send a nude photo of himself, Higgins would instantly transform and warn the child, ‘I’ve got you,’ and threaten to circulate that photo if the child did not engage in additional sexual acts on camera for Higgins’s sick gratification,”said Burlington County Prosecutor Scott Coffina.
“The desperation of these young boys who were put in this position by this predator is truly heartbreaking.”
He became a person of interest after a teen from Berks County reported a teenage girl from Snapchat was threatening to exploit a nude photo he had shared over the social media app.
Another report was filed by a teenage boy in Alabama to law enforcement.
Higgins worked as a youth pastor and a music leader at the Harbor Baptist Church, and a teacher at Harbor Baptist Academy – a K-12 private school with a student body of less than 100.
He is now being held at Burlington County jail pending a detention hearing.