A church missionary has been jailed for sexually abusing a 14-year-old schoolgirl he preached to and “chastised”.
Matthias Heinrichs incited the teenager to send him naked photos and graphically described how he wanted to take her virginity, Bradford Crown Court heard yesterday.
He groomed the girl after meeting her while working as a missionary at the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints in Keighley.
The teenager, who was not a member of the Mormon church’s congregation, still suffered nightmares about what “Elder Heinrichs” did to her, Judge John Potter said, jailing Heinrichs for two years. The 23-year-old, a Dutch national, stood in the dock with his head bowed and his hands clasped as the judge told him he had enouraged the girl to engage in child pornography purely for his sexual gratification.
“It was nothing more or less than the sexual abuse of that girl by you, some eight years her senior,” Judge Potter said.
Heinrichs pleaded guilty to meeting a child following sexual grooming and two offences of causing or inciting a child to engage in sexual activity.
Prosecutor Stephen Grattage said Heinrichs’ mission involved knocking on doors, preaching to the community and engaging with children, supervised by an older companion.
He made friends with the girl and her family and was invited round for meals.
When he returned to Holland, he communicated with her by text, email and Facebook.
He came back to Keighley and the girl sneaked out to meet him. They drank milkshakes and he preached to her and chastised her, pointing out scripture from the Book of Mormon.
Back in Holland, Heinrichs incited her to take indecent photos of herself and send them to him.
Heinrichs was also in contact with two girls, aged 12 and 13. At first they thought him good fun but then found his messages inappropriate and “creepy”.
In mitigation, Sophie Drake, Heinrichs’ barrister, said he was of previous good character and committed to serving his church. He never touched the girl sexually.
After the case the mother of the 13-year-old girl who found the missionary “creepy” after he contacted her and her 12-year-old friend, told the Telegraph & Argus Heinrichs was “a wolf in sheep’s clothing”.
Also speaking after the case, Detective Constable Sonia Hutchinson, of the Child and Public Protection Unit, said: “We welcome the custodial sentence given to Heinrichs today and hope it will send a message to others who try to groom young people in this fashion.
“I would like to praise the victim in this case for her conduct and courage during the court process and the Church of Jesus Christ and the Latter Day Saints for their co-operation in assisting the investigation.”