JEFFERSON TOWNSHIP, Pa. (WKBN) – A man who was a youth pastor at a Mercer County church is facing child sex charges involving several young victims.
According to a criminal complaint, 29-year-old Mark Heotzler is accused of sexually abusing at least 11 victims under 18 from 2015 through 2021, including at various locations in Jefferson Township.
Heotzler served as a youth pastor at Grace Chapel Community Church in Hermitage for five years.
Investigators say Heotzler engaged in sexual activity with the victims, exchanged nude photos of himself in various sexual circumstances and requested nude photos from some of the victims.
The investigation into Heotzler’s behavior began in January 2021. A criminal complaint was filed Tuesday. He is facing 26 charges, including sexual assault, child pornography, criminal solicitation, disseminating explicit material to a minor, corruption of minors and unlawful contact with a minor, among other charges.
Much of the communication and photos were exchanged with the victims via Snapchat.
Investigators say Heotzler admitted to many of the accusations and said the behavior was due to his “sexual desire,” according to the criminal complaint.
Heotzler currently lives in Chambersburg, a town in the south central region of Pennsylvania in Franklin County.
According to a post on the Grace Chapel Community Church website from April 2019, Heotzler left his position there to take a position at a church in south central Pennsylvania. He did not name the church.
In that post, Heotzler wrote, “I am eager to continue growing as a leader and in the new opportunities to minister to teens and families.”