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Sunset District church pastor among men arrested in child porn stings

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Steven Sabin, Trevor Schlesinger, Nicholas Fong, Donald Wright and Elihu Hernandez (Left to right) were arrested in police child pornography stings (Courtesy SFPD)

The pastor of a Lutheran church in the Sunset District is among the five men who have been arrested in San Francisco for allegedly having or distributing child pornography since last month, police announced Tuesday.

Rev. Steven Sabin, a 59-year-old pastor at Christ Church Lutheran at Quintara Street and 20th Avenue, was arrested last Thursday on suspicion of having hundreds of pictures and videos of children being sexually assaulted.

Since October, the Internet Crimes Against Children Unit has arrested Nicholas Fong, 24, a resident of North Beach; Donald Wright, 58, a San Francisco resident and information technology specialist; Elihu Hernandez, 43, a resident of the Tenderloin; and Trevor Schlesinger, 37, a Marina District resident.

The San Francisco Police Department said the men were booked into County Jail on suspicion of child pornography-related charges, but it is not immediately clear whether the District Attorney’s Office filed criminal charges against them.

Sabin was arrested after investigators looking into child pornography posts on social media conducted a search warrant at his home on Market Street between Ninth and Tenth streets and allegedly found child pornography on his cellphone and on a cloud storage device.

No one answered the phone Wednesday at the Christ Church Lutheran where Sabin serves as senior pastor. Sabin previously made headlines in 1998 when he was dismissed from the Lutheran Church in America for being gay.

Lutheranism has numerous sects, each with different teachings on homosexuality and same-sex unions. Sabin joined Christ Church Lutheran in 2001, according to a biography for him on the church website. In 2010, Ecumenical News reported that Sabin was reinstated to the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, considered to be the most pro-LGBT segment within the overall denomination.

“If you are looking for a church home, or just looking, we invite you to worship with us,” Sabin wrote in a message on the church website. “There is something special going on in our household of faith: the saving power of Jesus Christ, made known in Word and Sacraments, said and done in the lives of people.”

mbarba@sfexaminer.com

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