The pastor of St. Paul Lutheran Church,
Pensacola, Fla., was arrested April 13 on charges that he solicited sex
over the Internet.
Michael Anthony Harris, 42, was arrested after meeting a 24-year-old decoy sheriff's deputy at a soccer field. Harris allegedly had been in contact for two weeks with Ski Gowitze, an investigator with the sheriff's office computer crimes unit, who was posing as a 14-year-old boy on Internet chat sites.
Shortly after his arrest, deputies sought a search warrant to seize the church computer they believe was used to make contacts, as well as the car Harris was driving. Officers were unaware Harris was a pastor until seeing letters to "Dear Reverend" while processing the vehicle for evidence.
"We were shocked and saddened to learn of this," said Bishop Edward R. Benoway of the Florida-Bahamas Synod. "Michael has been one of our most respected pastors in the synod."
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