Former New Jersey youth pastor indicted for online sexual exploitation

Investigators say Sean Higgins would often introduce himself as Julie Miller.

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Saturday, August 20, 2022
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Investigators said Sean Higgins would adopt the persona of a teenage girl and utilize Snapchat and Instagram to begin a conversation with a young male.

PALMYRA, New Jersey (WPVI) -- A 31-year-old former youth pastor from Palmyra, New Jersey is accused of posing as a teenage girl on social media to get underage boys to send explicit pictures and videos to him.

According to the Burlington County Prosecutor's Office, Sean Higgins, 31, was indicted on 75 counts, including endangering the welfare of a child, aggravated sexual assault and cyber harassment.

Investigators said Higgins would adopt the persona of a teenage girl and use Snapchat and Instagram to begin a conversation with a young male, introducing himself as Julie Miller. After establishing a rapport, he would suggest that they trade photos. Higgins would then send pictures of an unidentified female teenager, investigators said.

When Higgins received the photos of his victims, he would then threaten to share them unless the person followed his demands, investigators said.

Prosecutors say the charges stem from 2020 and there are at least 13 victims, from New Jersey, Pennsylvania and other states. The victims range in age from 12 to 17.

Higgins is accused of committing the crimes while serving as the youth pastor and music leader at Harbor Baptist Church in Hainesport. He also worked as a teacher at the Harbor Baptist Academy, a private K-12 school that is housed in the same facility.

Investigators say the alleged crimes did not involve any members of the Harbor Baptist Church and Academy.

Anyone who believes their child had an inappropriate interaction on Snapchat or Instagram with someone by the name Julie Miller, Julia Miller, or some variation, is asked to call authorities at 609-265-7113.