Suspect in child pornography case helped with children’s ministry in South Ogden

Posted at 9:43 PM, Dec 30, 2015
and last updated 2015-12-30 23:43:36-05

SOUTH OGDEN, Utah - The pastor of Berean Baptist Church in Ogden said the news of 25-year-oldJeremiah Rivera's arrest came as a surprise.

"We're disgusted by it," said Pastor Dave Mallinak. "We condemn it. It's the worst kind of thing."

Rivera is facing charges of at least 20 counts of sexual exploitation of a minor after his co-worker at a business in Salt Lake City found a phone with thousands of images of child pornography saved to the device.

"I didn't know whose it was, but I wanted to get it back to who it belonged to," said Ian Snell, Rivera's coworker.

Snell said he found the phone and was simply looking to return it to its owner, until he saw the photos.

"I was completely caught off-guard," he said.

After the initial story aired Monday evening, a concerned FOX 13 viewer wrote to say that Rivera helped out with the children's ministry at Berean Baptist Church, a claim that Pastor Mallinak didn't deny. Mallinak confirmed the 25-year-old attended the church's summer camp just a couple of years ago, and was around children then.

"From our end, as soon as we knew, we immediately removed him from any kind of contact with children whatsoever," the pastor said.

Mallinak said that the congregation and parents are now aware of Rivera's charges.