Police are trying to determine whether a Wake Forest pastor used his church computer to download photos and videos of female congregation members he’s charged with secretly recording.
Investigators on Monday obtained a search warrant to review the digital files of an Apple laptop computer that belongs to The Summit Church in Durham. The computer was used by Mitchel Rivers McCaskell, 31, who worked at the church until he was fired on Sept. 18, “due to grievous, immoral actions, which involved filming three women who were unaware that their personal privacy had been violated.”
McCaskell’s firing was followed by criminal charges last week, when investigators charged him with two felony counts of peeping using a photographic imaging device. He was taken into custody at the Wake County jail and released the same day after posting a $7,500 bond, a jail spokesman reported.
Investigators have accused McCaskell, the married father of of a toddler daughter, of using his cell phone camera to secretly record two women who visited his home along and a third woman during a mission trip to the Middle East, according to a search warrant made public at the Wake County Clerk of Courts Office.
McCaskell confessed to videotaping the women to members of the church’s leadership staff after one of the alleged victims, who also works at the church, reported an incident that she said happened at McCaskell’s home in late July, according to the search warrant.
McCaskell claimed to have deleted all of the videos, according to a second search warrant application made public Thursday.
The church’s leadership staff first focused on the Apple laptop after the victim on the overseas mission trip told them that she found McCaskell’s phone in a bathroom set up as if to record her. The woman also told the church leaders that McCaskell downloaded his photos from the trip to his Summit Church Google Drive and used the Apple computer to perform the task, according to the search warrant.
The church’s information technology specialist searched through the files of the laptop and reported that he did not find any pornographic material or any evidence related to the secret recording of the three woman. But the IT specialist did notice during his examination of the computer that the device had been linked to several Cloud-based storages, including Google Drive, Apple iCloud and Drop Box, according to the search warrant.
The IT specialist also reported that he looked into the accounts and found “numerous photographs and other digital media” that were easily accessible by McCaskell’s laptop.
The Apple computer was the only one used by McCaskell, said J.M. Hale, a Wake Forest detective.
In the search warrant application made public Thursday, Hale described McCaskell as a pastor. However, leaders at the church said he was a church elder.
In an official statement this week, The Summit Church said, “We are deeply grieved for the personal pain and suffering of these three women and the resulting heartbreak and harm from his actions. We are committed to providing professional counseling, care, and support to the victims, as well as Mr. McCaskell’s wife. We are also committed to cooperating with local law enforcement as they investigate this situation.”
The results of the police search of the Apple laptop are pending, Hale reported.
Thomasi McDonald: 919-829-4533, @thomcdonald