Former Alabama youth pastor was 'cool' with meeting 14-year-old boy for sex, police say
A former Alabama youth pastor engaged in sexual chats with someone he believed to be a teenage boy before traveling to Pensacola, Florida for a planned encounter, according to police transcripts.
David Hoppenjan, 52, a married father of two and senior pastor at First United Methodist Church of Pace, was among 22 men arrested last week in "Operation Undertow," an internet sting targeting adults who were looking to meet minors for sex. Hoppenjan is the former youth pastor at Wetumpka First United Methodist Church in Alabama.
The suspects were arrested when they arrived at a pre-determined location where they thought they were meeting minors only to be taken into custody by the Pensacola police. Video of some of those arrests show the men approaching a house and ringing a doorbell at which time they are brought down by police.
Police said Hoppenjan traveled to two different Pensacola locations with the intentions of having sex with a 14-year-old boy.
In a transcript of part of a conversation with Hoppenjan, the police officer posing as the teenager told the pastor "So I know you know I'm young but I'm 14. Is that cool with you?"
Hoppenjan followed up with a series of sexual chats and said he'd "come and do whatever you want."
Hoppenjan's profile has been removed from the First United Methodist Church of Pace's website but an archived version said he was a "second-career pastor" who received his call to ministry in his mid-30s. He is a graduate of Asbury Theological Seminary, went on mission trips and was a volunteer with the YMCA and Habitat for Humanity.
More on this story at AL.com.