Former West Frankfort pastor arrested in federal child sex crime sting

BENTON, Ill. — A 57-year-old former pastor of a West Frankfort church has been indicted in federal court for attempted enticement of a minor child following an FBI sting targeting child exploitation.

Mark Allen Fitzpatrick was pastor of Greater Life Sanctuary Church in Benton. He was arrested in August and is currently free on a personal recognizance bond pending trial in federal court.

According to federal court documents, Fitzpatrick was arrested August 30 after he traveled to a residence in Marion, Illinois for the alleged purpose of engaging in sexual activity with what he believed was a 15-year-old juvenile male named “Cody”. FBI agents had set up the meeting and intercepted him before placing him under arrest.

The arrest came after agents had set up a profile on a dating site posing as the juvenile male. Fitzpatrick had allegedly engaged in sexually explicit text conversations that included the exchange of pornographic photos of himself.

Federal agents reportedly seized Fitzpatrick’s Apple iPhone containing the conversations and photos exchanged with the decoy teen.

He was arrested along with several other Southern Illinois individuals who made contact online with a Special Agent from the FBI posing as an underage decoy.

Fitzpatrick is next scheduled to appear in federal court in Benton on September 28.