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Black Collar Crime: IFB Youth Pastor Sean Higgins Indicted on Numerous Sex Crime Charges

sean higgins

The Black Collar Crime Series relies on public news stories and publicly available information for its content. If any incorrect information is found, please contact Bruce Gerencser. Nothing in this post should be construed as an accusation of guilt. Those accused of crimes are innocent until proven guilty.

Sean Higgins, a youth pastor and music director at Harbor Baptist Church in Hainesport, New Jersey, and a teacher at Harbor Baptist Academy (located in the church), stands accused of posing as a teen girl and persuading 13 boys on social media to send him nude pictures and videos of them masturbating. Harbor Baptist is an Independent Fundamentalist Baptist (IFB) congregation, pastored by Pat Higgins. The church was started by Higgins’ father. Sean Higgins may be related to Pastor Higgins, but I could not verify this information.

The Burlington Daily Voice reports:

A Burlington County teacher and youth pastor has been indicted for coaxing underage boys on social media to send him nude pictures and videos, then using that material to blackmail his victims into performing sexual acts on themselves for his enjoyment, authorities said. 

A grand jury indicted Sean Higgins, 31, of Palmyra on 75 total counts that included charges of aggravated sexual assault, criminal sexual contact, cyber harassment, child endangerment, and obscenity to a minor, they said.

Thirteen of the counts were first-degree charges, according to Burlington County Prosecutor LaChia L. Bradshaw.

Higgins is accused of committing these crimes in 2020 while serving as the youth pastor and music leader at Harbor Baptist Church in Hainesport, and serving as a teacher at the Harbor Baptist Academy, a private K-12 school that is housed in the same facility.

The indictment includes 13 victims, ranging in age from 12 to17, who resided in Alabama, Michigan, Minnesota, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, South Dakota and Tennessee, Bradshaw said.

….

The investigation revealed that Higgins would adopt the persona of a teenage girl and utilize Snapchat and Instagram to begin a conversation with a juvenile male, introducing himself as Julie Miller. After establishing a rapport, he would suggest that they trade photos. Higgins would then send pictures of an unidentified female teenager, the prosecutor said.

In return, Higgins would often receive nude photos that the victims took of themselves. Immediately upon receiving those images, he would take a screenshot of the victim’s friends list that was visible on the forward-facing social media platform. Higgins would send that screenshot back to the victim and threaten to send the nude photos he had just received to the list of the victim’s friends unless the victim did exactly what Higgins demanded, Bradshaw said.

In most of the cases that were investigated, Higgins then demanded that his victims go into the bathroom at their residence and place the phone on the floor, or at an angle looking up, and would instruct the victims to masturbate or perform sexual acts on themselves. Higgins would record what was transpiring.

According to the videos made by Higgins that were obtained during the investigation, victims would often beg Higgins to be allowed to stop engaging in sexual conduct, but Higgins would demand that they complete his instructions, or face the consequences of having the recordings he was making of the incident be sent to their list of friends.

….

The investigation began after a youth in Berks County, Pa., contacted Snapchat and reported that he sent nude photos of himself to someone he believed to be an unknown female. The unknown female, who in actuality was Higgins, had threatened to expose his nude photographs after they exchanged pictures. An underage male in Alabama also reported his communications with Higgins to law enforcement authorities.

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Bruce Gerencser, 65, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 44 years. He and his wife have six grown children and thirteen grandchildren. Bruce pastored Evangelical churches for twenty-five years in Ohio, Texas, and Michigan. Bruce left the ministry in 2005, and in 2008 he left Christianity. Bruce is now a humanist and an atheist.

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6 Comments

  1. Avatar
    Darcy

    I wonder how the online victims who reported Higgins had the sense and strength to report the blackmail to Snapchat, in one case, and to law enforcement, in the other case. At least they thought that they were engaging online with another minor, which of course is not good. But these online victims weren’t being coerced to do something sexual with and being blackmailed by a respected person like a minister, or youth minister, or teacher at the church’s “academy,” all of which Higgins was. Wonder if he had to have teaching credentials to teach there.

  2. Avatar
    ObstacleChick

    Another case of someone who is a youth pastor and teacher preying on kids. Ugh.

    I live in NJ – Iadmit that I don’t know much about the requirements for someone to be a private school teacher in NJ. I know the requirements for becoming a public school teacher are comprehensive. My husband is a HS math teacher and private tutor, and he doesn’t think highly of many of the private schools’ math departments based on performance of students he works with. Many of these students from private (mostly Catholic, but also Jewish and secular private schools) think they are in honors level courses,, yet compared to the students from most of the public schools the level of private school honors is equivalent to regular level at the public schools.

  3. Avatar
    Grace

    Dennis Higgins Jr is NOT the Pastor of Harbor Baptist church. That position is held by his brother, Pat Higgins. A quick check of the church’s website would confirm this. Pat Higgins has been Pastor since his father’s death in 2019.

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Bruce Gerencser