An ex-pastor at a Lafayette, Indiana church has been formally charged with five counts of child exploitation and five counts of voyeurism.
Police reported finding two cameras inside a women’s restroom at Sunrise Christian Church, in Lafayette. They also found footage of two adult women and a juvenile girl using the restroom on the camera’s memory cards.
Robert Lyzenga was arrested in connection with these crimes. The 55 year old has been the pastor at the Sunrise Church since 2002, according to the Church’s website. He has three children and has been married for more than 30 years.
“We were devastated and shocked and disappointed,” elder at Sunrise Christian Church Mark DeYoung said.
DeYoung said those emotions came pouring out from members and other leaders of the church when they first heard the news last year. “Pastor Bob was a longtime, trusted, highly regarded man within the congregation. At this point, that is not the case,” DeYoung said.
According to court documents, a woman found two cameras hidden in fake air fresheners in the bathroom stalls of the church in April 2012. Prosecutors say some of the videos showed girls as young as 5 years old.
According to the probable cause affidavit submitted by police, Lyzenga was identified as the man behind the cameras after police noticed details about the pastor’s office that appeared in footage from the cameras.
Detective Robert Goldsmith of Tippecanoe County Sheriff’s Office said, about Lyzenga, “Right now, we only have one suspect and that’s him.”
The criminal charges come 10 months after Lyzenga was arrested on suspicion of voyeurism. He’s expected to appear before Tippecanoe County Magistrate Sean Persin this week for an initial hearing.
Lyzenga entered a “not guilty” plea to the 10 charges filed against him. The judge ordered that Lyzenga have no contact with any of the victims.
Search warrants were executed on May 10, 2012, for Lyzenga’s church office and his home. During those searches, investigators found a laptop computer in his home that revealed several videos of a woman taken in the church’s restroom.
When interviewed by detectives, Lyzenga reportedly denied having any knowledge of the cameras. But he later admitted to having prior problems with viewing pornography and that he often looked at videos on voyeuristic websites.
Lyzenga claimed that “part of the excitement was getting away with doing this,” Goldsmith wrote in the affidavit.