North Huntingdon man arrested after police find inappropriate photos of young girls on his phone

PITTSBURGH — A North Huntingdon has been arrested for unlawful contact with a minor, according to the Allegheny County Police Department.

ACPD says its investigation began in March when they got a ChildLine report of an incident involving a young girl. Through witness interviews, police learned an adult man, identified as Michael McFarland, 21, instructed the girl to take an inappropriate photo of herself in the bathroom on his phone while at a Bible study session in South Park Township home. The girl reported knowing McFarland through Providence Reformed Church.

“It’s sad. It’s disgusting. [It] breaks my heart to hear that things like this are still happening,” she said. “We’re supposed to be sharing the word of Jesus, not doing things like that.”

While investigating, detectives reviewed McFarland’s phone and found 11 photos of seven girls “in various stages of undress.”

McFarland was arrested on May 16. ACPD says he’s facing multiple charges, including unlawful contact with a minor, criminal solicitation, and sexual abuse of children.

Detectives have not been able to identify any of the other victims from the recovered photos. Anyone with information on this case should call police at 1-833-ALL-TIPS. Callers can remain anonymous.

In a statement to Channel 11, Providence Reformed Church said McFarland has been a member for the majority of his life. Church officials said when they learned of McFarland soliciting inappropriate pictures, they reported it to the authorities, the congregation and the Higher Courts of the church. They also say he’s under church discipline and is restricted from attending any events or activities until further notice. Their full statement reads:

Michael McFarland has been a member of Providence Reformed Presbyterian Church for the majority of his 21 years. On March 7th, shortly after becoming aware of an incident in the congregation involving Michael soliciting inappropriate photos of a minor, the leadership of this congregation reported the incident to the authorities. It was subsequently reported to the congregation and to the Higher Courts of the church. We are unaware of the identities of any other alleged victims at this time. Michael has been put under church discipline and is currently restricted from attending any events or activities at Providence, until further notice. Our prayers and support go out for any who may have been victims of abuse.

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