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Black Collar Crime: United Methodist Pastor Rick Haberland Pleads No Contest to Child Pornography Charges

rick haberland

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.

Rick Haberland, pastor of Oneida United Methodist Church in Oneida, Wisconsin, pleaded no contest last Friday to charges of child pornography possession. Haberland previously pastored United Methodist Church in De Pere, Suring and Hickory United Methodist Churches in Suring, Phillips United Methodist Church in Phillips, and Tabor United Methodist Church in Eden

The Post Crescent reports:

Rick E. Haberland, former pastor of Oneida United Methodist Church, pleaded no contest to all five charges Friday morning during a plea hearing in Outagamie County Circuit Court. A no-contest plea accepts a guilty verdict without admitting or denying any guilt.


He was arrested in February following an investigation in response to a Cybertipline report from the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children.

During the course of the investigation, police linked Haberland with a Skype account and email address involved in multiple exchanges of child pornography.

On Feb. 23, police executed search warrants at Oneida United Methodist Church and Haberland’s nearby residence, during which they seized his phone. A digital forensic examiner estimated Haberland’s phone had more than 150 videos depicting sexual abuse of children, in addition to written statements about sexual abuse of infant to 12-year-old boys, according to a criminal complaint. 

During the search at Haberland’s residence, investigators found 1.2 grams of meth in his bedroom closet, the criminal complaint said.

Haberland was initially charged with 13 counts of possession of child pornography, but nine were dismissed.

Haberland’s sentencing hearing is scheduled for 9:30 a.m. Oct. 14.


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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  1. Avatar
    MJ Lisbeth

    Interesting that some are willing to forgive a preacher for looking at kiddie porn yet want to harass teachers for teaching things they’ve never taught (e.g., Critical Race Theory).

  2. Avatar

    MJ, good point. Add to that the folks who think public school teachers are all “grooming” children.

    I went to a Catholic funeral last week and noticed that there weren’t altar boys – there were older ladies performing the altar boy tasks…..hmmmm……

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Bruce Gerencser