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No charges after child porn investigation involving Huntley church, pastor

HUNTLEY – Police have closed an investigation without filing charges based on claims that the head pastor of a Huntley church had child pornography, officials said.

Crystal Lake Deputy Police Chief David Hyrkas said officers found “nothing warranting criminal charges” on electronic devices seized from Stephen Foster, a pastor at Morning Star Church and World Outreach Center in Huntley.

The case officially was closed in July, Hyrkas said. In June, the case still was active.

Neither Foster nor the McHenry County State’s Attorney’s Office returned calls seeking comment.

The investigation began after a Lake in the Hills Verizon Wireless store employee reported seeing child pornography July 11, 2016, on a phone brought in by a female customer. The woman said the phone belonged to her boss, who later was identified as Stephen Foster, according to court records.

Verizon determined that the phone number and account for the device were associated with Morning Star Church, 41W350 Powers Road, Huntley. Members of the Illinois Attorney General Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force separately identified Foster and his wife, Mary Foster, as the head pastors of the church.

In July 2016, a customer entered a Lake in the Hills Verizon Wireless and requested to transfer information from one phone to another, according to an official statement from a “Pat Doe” filed Feb. 17 in the McHenry County circuit clerk’s office.

While completing the transfer, a Verizon employee noticed at least one photo gallery with 200 to 300 sexually suggestive or explicit pictures of primarily young boys between 4 and 10 years old, according to the statement.

The Crystal Lake Police Department declined to release any complaints or reports mentioning Foster, or any reports filed in connection with the search warrants executed at the Fosters’ home and church.

In a response to a Freedom of Information Act request, the Crystal Lake Police Department said releasing any of those documents “would be an invasion of personal privacy.”

Crystal Lake Detective David Eitel wrote in a Feb. 14 court filing that there was probable cause police would find evidence of child pornography at the Fosters’ home.

Two days later, police seized cellphones, tablets, CDs, hundreds of VHS tapes and other computer equipment from Stephen and Mary Foster’s home, 1739 Village Court, Crystal Lake.

They also seized four vials of what was believed to be human growth hormone and two hypodermic needles, according to court records obtained by the Northwest Herald.

Hyrkas declined to comment on the vials, but said the contents did not result in charges.

The same day, Crystal Lake police, Illinois State Police, the Kane County Sheriff’s Office and the FBI’s Regional Computer Forensic Laboratory also raided Morning Star Church and World Outreach Center.

Investigators took computers, external hard drives, a digital camera and other equipment.

The equipment was returned to the church the next day, according to records of search warrants filed in McHenry County.

The church’s online presence, including its website and Facebook page, were taken down shortly after the Northwest Herald first wrote about the investigation in March. Morning Star’s phone service, however, appears to have remained active and mentions times for ongoing church services and events.

Morning Star Church and World Outreach Center is described as an apostolic and prophetic Christian church founded in 1986, according to its website. The church, located on 14 acres, has weekly services for its members, including specific youth and young adult services.

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