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MICHIGAN: Lutheran pastor busted for offering girl "sexual training"

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William SEPTEMBER 13--An undercover FBI sting has netted a Lutheran Church pastor who sought to arrange a Red Roof Inn liaison with an 11-year-old girl he was planning to offer “sexual training,” The Smoking Gun has learned.

Reverend William "Pastor Bill" Bendert was arrested Friday following a two-week probe that began when the 51-year-old Michigan man--who heads King of Kings Lutheran Church in Lake Orion--made contact with an undercover agent in the chat room “train lgl yf Michigan,” according to an FBI affidavit filed in U.S. District Court.

The FBI agent, Brett Leatherman, was posing as “Kara,” a 38-year-old single mother of an 11-year-old girl named “Jenna.”

In a series of chats, Bendert, pictured at left, offered to serve as the “private sexual tutor” of “Jenna,” noting that he could teach the child about “pleasuring a man’s penis, performing oral sex, and learning about her own body.” Bendert, using the handle “Billthebear99,” explained that he wanted “Kara” to be present during these sessions and that he was seeking “the experience of training…helping…enjoying both your company and time.”

According to his church’s web site--which was taken offline after a TSG reporter contacted King of Kings this morning--Bendert was ordained in 1984 and has served at five parishes. A brief bio quotes Bendert saying, “I have a passion for two things in ministry--bringing people to Christ, and then helping grow disciples for Jesus…Beyond ministry, I love to travel and see the wonders of God's creation.” A church secretary said Bendert is currently on “administrative leave.”

The FBI affidavit, sworn by Leatherman, indicates that Bendert had been the subject of two prior bureau investigations into attempted online enticement, but that while he had discussed “traveling to Ohio to have sex with minors, he did not travel to meet the undercover agent, citing in one instance his concern about law enforcement interdiction.” In conversations with “Kara,” Bendert claimed to have previously “trained” several underage girls, describing the encounters as “like riding a roller coaster…at first it is scary, but the ride is incredible.”

During one online session, “Kara” forwarded Bendert a photo of “Jenna,” though the image was actually that of an FBI agent when she was about 11 or 12 years old. During some of Bendert’s IM conversations with “Kara,” FBI agents were surveilling him while he typed away at the King of Kings Church.

In e-mails sent earlier this month, Bendert proposed playing “truth or dare” with “Jenna,” a process that, “sometimes I use that to set the stage and get things rolling, as a way of making it a ‘game’ at first.” During a September 2 instant message exchange, Bendert--who is known as Pastor Bill to congregants--further expounded on the nature of his training sessions: “For instance…if she can take it…I might go down on her to show her what oral sex is all about…I can teach her tons more about her clitoris…than she will ever learn from a boy.”

Last Tuesday, Bendert sent an e-mail introducing himself to “Jenna.” Noting that he was “looking forward to meeting you soon,” Bendert wrote that he had been chatting with the girl’s mother and that “Kara” said it was “okay” for them to chat online so “we can get to know each other a bit.”

Bendert last Wednesday met with a female undercover agent posing as “Kara,” and assured her that the upcoming meeting with “Jenna” was “totally confidential.” He added, “I’m older than most of her teachers, but I’m there to teach,” according to the FBI affidavit. He added that he would bring “protection,” and if “Jenna” wanted to have intercourse, the “biggest question (in Bendert’s mind) was which way, laying down, with her on top, etc.,” Agent Leatherman reported. Bendert also suggested that the girl could call him “Mr. Bill.”

Bendert is scheduled this afternoon for a detention hearing in federal court in Detroit. (13 pages)