Child grooming investigation leads to arrest of McLeansboro man

Tonight we find out more information on a Jefferson County man arrested on two counts of grooming minors for sexual purposes
Published: Jan. 5, 2023 at 4:09 PM CST|Updated: Jan. 6, 2023 at 10:17 PM CST
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JEFFERSON COUNTY, Ill. (KFVS) - A man from McLeansboro, Ill. accused of sexually exploiting two children has been arrested.

In September 2022, Benton Police received information from a juvenile who was claiming to be the target of some form of sexual exploitation.

Officers handling the complaint in Benton contacted the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office and started a coordinated investigation.

The investigation resulted in a search warrant at the residence of the suspect.

The Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office identified the suspect as 28-year-old Garrett Biggerstaff of McLeansboro.

A sheriff’s office member of the Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force searched Biggerstaff’s homes.

Investigators say collection of evidence revealed that there was a second juvenile victim.

The completed investigation was turned over to the Jefferson County State’s Attorney’s Office.

The case was reviewed and arrest warrants were issued for Biggerstaff in Jefferson County Court on January 4.

Jefferson County Sheriff’s detectives, with the assistance of the McLeansboro Police Department and U.S. Marshal’s Service, served the arrest warrant on January 5.

The communications director for the Illinois Baptist State Association says that Biggerstaff was a pastor for Pleasant Grove Missionary Baptist Church in Fairfield.

The organization released a statement reading, “The church suspended Biggerstaff immediately and has not returned to the pulpit. Following his arrest, the church has scheduled formal action on his termination.”

According to documents from a board meeting at Spring Garden Consolidated Community School District, Biggerstaff served as the school’s athletic director until his resignation in November, when the case went public.

Also on these documents, multiple parents voicing their concerns for their children’s safety.

Biggerstaff was arrested on the warrant for two counts of grooming and booked into the Jefferson County Jail.

His bond is set at $150,000.