Anchorage minister faces child pornography charges

bbrasch@adn.comDecember 2, 2013 

A pastor was arrested at his East Anchorage home on felony child pornography charges on Nov. 26 as part of a probe that began last summer, police said Monday.

Ronald Paul Rathbun Sr., 57, is facing one count each of possession and distribution of child pornography, said Det. James Estes, a member of the Anchorage Police Department's cyber crimes unit.

Rathbun is a pastor at the Eternal Love Ministry, said Dani Myren, a police spokeswoman. The church is located in a one-story building in the Boniface Plaza, off of the Boniface Parkway.

The Alaska State Troopers' High Tech Crimes Unit, which is a part of the Alaska Internet Crimes Against Children task force, tracked images of child pornography to Anchorage and then turned the case over to local police, Estes said.

After investigating, Anchorage police allegedly found the illegal images coming from Rathbun's home on Island Drive, Estes said. A search warrant was issued and Rathbun was taken into custody and charged.

He's being held on a $15,000 bond at the Anchorage jail. Rathbun will have his pre-indictment hearing Tuesday at the Nesbett Courthouse.

The case against Rathbun is ongoing, police said, especially due to the suspect's religious work and access to children.

The Eternal Love Ministry's website says that Rathbun has "travelled the Philippines, Canada, Mexico and lived in California, Ohio, Oregon, Washington and Alaska" and is married with four children, all but one an adult. The site also says that Rathbun was a one-time employee of the state of Alaska. Police could only confirm that he worked for the state and that he has since retired.

The ministry, founded in 2005, is a non-denominational organization that reaches out to prisoners, facilitates family counseling and streams some services online, according to the ministry's website.

A call for comment to the ministry's 24-hour prayer hotline was not immediately returned.

A woman who answered the phone registered to where Rathbun lives urged others to "have compassion, people make mistakes sometimes."

Reach Benjamin Brasch at bbrasch@adn.com or 257-4349. Twitter: twitter.com/ben_brasch

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