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Press Release

Green Bay Pastor Sentenced to 15 Years in Federal Prison for Online Sex Crimes Targeting Children Overseas

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Eastern District of Wisconsin

Gregory J. Haanstad, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Wisconsin, announced that on December 4, 2023, Cory J. Herthel (age: 40) of Green Bay, Wisconsin, was sentenced to 180 months’ imprisonment (15 years) for the online enticement of children located in Venezuela, Cuba, and Spain.

In May 2023, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) was contacted by the church where Herthel was employed as a pastor regarding information it had obtained indicating that Herthel had possibly been involved in an inappropriate sexual relationship with a minor living in Venezuela. An ensuing investigation revealed that Herthel sent the child videos of himself masturbating, and at Herthel’s request, the minor sent similar videos and images in return.

According to court documents, Herthel acknowledged knowing the minor from a mission trip he had taken to Ecuador, where he met the child begging on the streets. The child and his mother returned to his native Venezuela, and Herthel kept in touch with the child. Herthel was confronted by law enforcement with images of him masturbating and acknowledged sending the videos to the child whom he knew to be a minor. Herthel also acknowledged asking the child to send him sexually explicit images and masturbation videos and admitted sending the child monetary payments via various online applications. 

According to court records, further investigation by the FBI revealed that Herthel was also exchanging sexually explicit images and videos with a minor child located in Cuba. Herthel assisted the child’s move to Spain with the ultimate goal of bringing him to the United States. Herthel visited the minor on several occasions in Spain and acknowledged engaging in a sexual relationship with the child.

Finally, court records indicate that Herthel also solicited sexually explicit images and videos from a second child in Cuba, to whom Herthel also sent monetary payments.

At the sentencing hearing, Senior United States District Judge William C. Griesbach described Herthel’s crime as “terrible” and “an abuse of spiritual authority.” Judge Griesbach also referenced the strong need to deter Herthel and others who may attempt to engage in similar conduct.   Judge Griesbach further noted the serious psychological and emotional scars that Herthel imposed on his victims.

Following his 15-year prison sentence, Herthel will spend 20 years on supervised release and will be required to register as a sexual offender for the remainder of his life.

This case was investigated by the Green Bay and Milwaukee offices of the FBI, with the assistance of the Green Bay Police Department. It was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Daniel R. Humble.

This case was brought as part of Project Safe Childhood, a nationwide initiative to combat the growing epidemic of child sexual exploitation and abuse launched in May 2006, by the U.S. Department of Justice. Led by U.S. Attorneys’ Offices and the Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section (CEOS), Project Safe Childhood marshals federal, state and local resources to better locate, apprehend and prosecute individuals who exploit children via the Internet, as well as to identify and rescue victims. For more information about Project Safe Childhood, please visit

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Updated December 4, 2023