A Cape Town church youth leader who posed as a scantily clad woman to entice at least 47 teenage boys to send him explicit photographs has been sentenced to 15 years in prison.
Kent Locke, 29, who was arrested over two years ago can finally be named, after he pleaded guilty on Tuesday to 47 sex abuse charges.
People accused of sex offences cannot be named until they have pleaded.
The former Common Ground Church youth leader was sentenced to 15 years in prison, with five years suspended moreover, his name was added to the sexual offenders’ register.
Locke’s victims were boys between the ages of 12 and 17. His charges included: encouraging, enabling, instructing or persuading a child to perform a sexual act;
compelled self-sexual assault;
sexual grooming of children;
using a child for child pornography;
failure to immediately report a sexual offence against a child;
exposing or displaying or causing the exposure or display of child pornography or pornography to a child; and
possession of child pornography.
After Locke received explicit photos from the boys, he threatened to post them online unless they sent him more revealing images.
Locke targeted boys from Common Ground’s nine congregations and pupils at a number of Cape Town boys’ schools, where he presented himself as a sports photographer and a church youth worker.
An investigation was launched by The Hawks and the US Department of Homeland Security (DHS) after the parents of a boy found evidence of the exchanges on their 14-year-old son’s cellphone and alerted church leaders.
Locke was arrested in Rondebosch in September 2017 by Hawks cyber-crime specialist Colonel Yolanda Gair‚ who flew to Cape Town from Pretoria with DHS investigator Johan Claassen.
According to the charge sheet his two cellphones, a laptop, an external hard drive, a tablet and two flash drives were confiscated and found to contain images of child pornography.
Common Ground Senior Pastor, Ryan TerMorshuizen said the three weeks investigation leading to Locke’s arrest had been extremely difficult for church leaders working with the investigating team.
“Our primary concern was for the safety of the affected children, but if we had suspended [Locke] and warned our churches, it could have compromised the investigation and been construed as tipping him off so that he could get rid of the evidence‚” he said.
At the time of his arrest Locke was working for Common Ground on a full-time basis. He began working for Common Ground in 2012, after a period as a volunteer leader.