A former Sunday school teacher in Redmond is accused of possessing thousands of child pornography images, according to King County prosecutors.
Douglas Meerdink, 70, was charged Tuesday with three total counts of first- and second-degree possession of images depicting minors engaged in sexually explicit conduct. His bail was set at $100,000, and he was prohibited from having contact with minors.
The National Center for Missing & Exploited Children received a report from Yahoo on Oct. 6 that a user, later identified as Meerdink, had uploaded 2,114 child pornography files, according to probable cause documents.
A Redmond police detective found Meerdink had accessed the Yahoo account from multiple IP addresses since at least 2012, including some registered to the King County Library System.
Yahoo submitted a second report after finding Meerdink, who taught second and third graders at Cornerstone Christian Fellowship church, was in a position of authority within a classroom of young children, according to court documents.
Law enforcement officials served a search warrant at Meerdink’s residence on Monday. They detained Meerdink, who told detectives he has had “issues with pornographic material” for some time, documents say.
Meerdink was convicted of a charge of indecent liberties in 1988 for soliciting an underage sex worker and was mandated to register as a sex offender until 2003, according to court documents.
Church leadership was made aware of his arrest Monday, said Joe Yoshihara, lead pastor at Cornerstone Christian Fellowship. Meerdink last taught Oct. 23 and was removed Tuesday from the teaching schedule.
Meerdink joined the church in 2008 and was forthright about his 1988 conviction, Yoshihara said. He was allowed to work with the children’s ministry beginning in 2015, given that his “recommitment to Christ seemed genuine” and the amount of time that had elapsed from his conviction, Yoshihara added.
There were always other adults present in the classroom or nearby, as is standard practice, Yoshihara said.
“Our hearts grieve over this situation and we are doing our due diligence to verify that all of the children who participate in our children’s ministry have been kept safe,” he said.
Meerdink’s arraignment is scheduled for Nov. 17. He had not been assigned a lawyer as of Thursday evening.