CRYSTAL LAKE – A former Marengo youth minister pleaded guilty to six felonies for soliciting an undercover officer whom he thought was a 14-year-old girl for sex acts and other crimes committed in the church where he worked.
Barry Caudle, 39, a former Marengo First Assembly of God youth minister, pleaded guilty Thursday in Rock Island County Circuit Court to two counts of solicitation of a child, one count of grooming, and three counts of harmful material for performing lewd acts over a webcam while in the church.
Under terms of a plea agreement, Caudle could get up to two years in prison, said Rock Island County Assistant State's Attorney Margaret Osborn. He had faced a maximum of three years.
Caudle would be required to register as a sex offender for ten years. He didn't have a prior criminal record, Osborn said.
The Rock Island Police Department began investigating Caudle in mid-2011. Investigators said Caudle solicited an officer posing online as a 14-year-old girl for sex acts, believing she was an underage girl. The case was later handed over to Attorney General Lisa Madigan’s office.
Church officials were stunned when Caudle was arrested at Marengo First Assembly of God on Nov. 2.
On an online journal, Caudle wrote “I have been in ministry for 17 years and I love kids and love to serve, and just love people.” And according to his Facebook homepage, Caudle began serving as a youth minister at Marengo First Assembly of God in November 2010. Before that, he served as a children’s pastor at Harvest Chapel in Sandwich, from February 2004 to October 2010.
Though "a man of faith" Caudle agreed to leave the ministry and seek treatment, his attorney Mark Battaglia said Thursday.
Caudle admitted he had a problem with pornography but denied ever having inappropriate contact with children, Battaglia said.
"He was dealing with a compulsion which is becoming increasing prevalent in our society with the availability of vice on the Internet," Battaglia said.
Battaglia said Caudle's wife and family supported him.
Caudle is scheduled to be sentenced April 10