It typically began with some online flirting to gain their trust. Soon thereafter, conversations would turn sexual: The boys were asked about the size of specific body parts, whether they ever went skinny-dipping or what kind of underwear they wore.
They thought they were speaking to a 16-year-old girl. And they were asked to send nude photos.
All of that is according to FBI investigators who accuse a 34-year-old former Fort Wayne Area Youth for Christ leader of soliciting pornographic photos and videos from boys – many of whom were between the ages of 12 and 14.
Nathan Burl Hasty, of Huntington, was arrested last week on federal charges of receiving and possessing material showing minors performing sex acts.
Up until last month when he was fired, Hasty worked as a Campus Life director with Youth for Christ and was assigned to two Huntington County middle schools – Riverview and Crestview.
Monday he was chained, shackled and dressed in an orange- and white-striped Allen County Jail suit as he appeared for a brief hearing in U.S. District Court.
Hasty is accused of using three fake Facebook accounts to contact various boys and girls, according to court documents.
Two of the Facebook accounts – one under the name Sydney Jones with an email account Sydney_bella@hotmail.com; the other under the name Rachel Johnson with an email account of email@example.com – were used to target boys.
Hasty used these accounts to pose as a 16-year-old girl and admitted to investigators he contacted boys in his youth groups, according to court documents.
He would send messages to dozens of boys, flirtatiously engaging them before steering conversations toward sex, according to investigators. Then he would ask for pictures of them – preferably in their underwear, shirtless or naked, according to court documents.
Investigators wrote in court documents that Hasty would also ask the boys to take part in webcam or Skype sessions, although these would be one-way affairs as he claimed not to have a camera and could only watch.
He also told boys to send pictures to his iPod, which he said could only receive texts and not make calls.
With a third Facebook account – this one under the name Matt Kramer with an email address of firstname.lastname@example.org – Hasty posed as a 19-year-old man. With this account he would contact both boys and girls – it’s not made clear in court documents how old these boys and girls were – and asked similar sexual questions.
It’s not clear in court documents how many boys were allegedly targeted by Hasty or whether any underage girls were targeted as well. According to the FBI, an investigation is continuing and agents are attempting to identify potential victims.
When contacted Monday, an official with Huntington County Community Schools Corp. – which includes Riverview and Crestview middle schools – at first declined to comment.
Later, the school district sent out a statement that in part read:
Our immediate and foremost concern is for the emotional well-being of our students, including those who take part in the Youth for Christ (YFC) sponsored program.
School counselors have been made aware of the situation and are available to students who have questions, the statement read.
The school corporation will also continue to partner with Youth for Christ, which uses school space, before school to provide programming for members of their organization, according to the statement.
It’s also not clear how investigators first learned about Hasty’s scheme, but Facebook provided information to law enforcement regarding the fake accounts earlier this year.
In July, agents made a visit to Hasty’s home but he was not there. They came back Sept. 21 and questioned him about the Facebook accounts and online conversations he had with minors.
Hasty stated he may have said some things he shouldn’t have said’ to the kids and that conversations may have become sexual,’ wrote an FBI investigator in court documents. Hasty stated he communicated with more than 10 boys and asked them to send nude pictures of themselves.
When investigators searched Hasty’s computer, they found two different videos of boys performing sexual acts.
One of the videos had been sent to one of the email addresses he used to pose as a 16-year-old girl. The other had been sent to another email address, this onesare email@example.com.
Investigators also linked a phone number given to some of the boys through these sexual conversations as belonging to Hasty, according to court documents.
By Friday, he had been arrested on formal felony counts of receipt of material depicting the sexual exploitation of a minor and possession of material depicting the sexual exploitation of a minor.
Larry Lance, the executive director of Fort Wayne Area Youth for Christ, said Hasty was suspended the day agents came to his home, which was when Youth for Christ leaders learned he was being investigated by law enforcement.
But according to Lance, officials did not know what that investigation entailed. Still, Lance said the board of directors decided to fire Hasty on Sept. 24.
Lance said his organization’s officials – who’ve cooperated with the FBI – finally learned the details of the investigation by reading The Journal Gazette’s story about Hasty posted online Monday morning.
We are shocked and very sad, Lance said. We expect the highest integrity of the people who work here.
Upon Hasty’s firing, Youth for Christ did not contact any parents who had children in his youth groups about his leave or the fact that he was the focal point of a law enforcement investigation, Lance said.
Hasty, who is being held in Allen County Jail, is scheduled to be in court again Wednesday.
During that hearing, a U.S. District attorney is expected to go over evidence in the case and a judge will possibly rule on whether Hasty will be detained in jail or whether he can be released with certain conditions.