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Press Release

Former Teacher and Volunteer Youth Ministry Leader Pleads Guilty to Possessing Child Sexual Abuse Material

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Middle District of Georgia

MACON, Ga. – A former teacher and volunteer leader of a youth ministry admitted to possessing child sexual abuse material (CSAM) in federal court today and faces a maximum of 20 years in prison for his crime.

Christian Baumgarth, 27, of Atlanta and formerly of Macon, pleaded guilty to one count of possession of child pornography before U.S. District Judge Marc Treadwell on July 8. Baumgarth faces a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison to be followed by up to a lifetime of supervised release and a maximum $250,000 fine. In addition, he will have to register as a sex offender upon release from prison. Baumgarth was taken into custody pending sentencing after entering his guilty plea. The sentencing hearing is scheduled for Oct. 9. There is no parole in the federal system.

“Sadly, those who perpetuate the online abuse of children can sometimes be found hiding in plain sight and interacting with children,” said U.S. Attorney Peter D. Leary. “Our office and law enforcement at every level are working tirelessly to protect children from predators, and I commend the investigative work done in this case.”

“Those who view and distribute child sexual abuse material perpetuate the victimization of the most vulnerable members of our society,” said Anthony J. Patrone, the Acting Special Agent in Charge of HSI Atlanta that oversees Georgia and Alabama. “Those in positions of public trust are held to a higher standard as guardians of the innocent and HSI Atlanta, with our law enforcement partners, will continue to seek justice for these victims by pursuing and holding accountable the predators dealing in this material.”

According to court documents and statements referenced in court, federal agents with Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) were investigating people using encrypted applications to distribute CSAM during the summer of 2023. Baumgarth was identified; at the time, he was a teacher and a coach at First Presbyterian Day (FPD) School in Macon, a position he held from 2018-2023. Additionally, he was a volunteer small group leader in the student ministry at Northway Church in Macon from 2019-2023.

On Aug. 1, 2023, agents executed a federal search warrant at Baumgarth’s residence in Macon, seizing numerous electronic devices. Agents notified FPD about the execution of the search warrant, and Baumgarth’s employment was terminated. Two of Baumgarth’s iPhones were forensically examined and found to contain 20 images and 13 videos of CSAM, including some that depicted the sexual abuse or exploitation of an infant or toddler. Baumgarth was interviewed by law enforcement and admitted to the conduct.

The case is being investigated by HSI with assistance from the FBI.

Deputy Criminal Chief Will Keyes is prosecuting the case for the Government.

Updated July 9, 2024