OAKLAND — A man charged with posing as a girl on Instagram in order to trick boys into sending him lewd images of themselves had for years sought positions at local churches that gave him access to kids, according to authorities who say they’re still investigating those ties.
At the time of his arrest last year, Alameda resident William Marigny Jr., 40, was a volunteer at The Movement Church in Oakland, and before that worked at Central Baptist Church in Alameda, according to law enforcement sources. In both churches he sought positions to work directly with kids, though authorities say at this point no victims have been identified from either church.
But Marigny’s history working with children may have helped him pretend to be one, according to federal prosecutors who noted in a recent court filings that Marigny was able to convince numerous boys that he was a teen. Authorities found evidence Marigny “solicited images” from 11 boys, and tried to set up meetings with one who was 13 at the time.
“(Marigny) has learned how to speak like them, how to fit in with them, how they communicate with each other – which is how he learned exactly what to say and do in order to entice his victims into producing and sending him child pornography,” assistant U.S. Attorney Samantha Schott Bennett wrote in a court filing. “He deceived these children into believing that he was another teenager and that he could be trusted because he was one of them.”
AJ DeLaFuente, the executive pastor of The Movement Church in Oakland, confirmed in an email that Marigny was a volunteer there. He said that the church has fully cooperated with the law enforcement investigation and that the revelations about Marigny have made for a “difficult time for our church family.”
“We are deeply grieved by what happened,” DeLaFuente said in an email.
Central Baptist Church in Alameda did not respond to requests for comment.
Marigny was arrested last year, following an undercover police investigation, but in June the feds took over his case. He was charged with coercion and enticement of a minor, an offense that carries a mandatory minimum federal prison term of 10 years and a maximum sentence of life in prison.
According to the criminal complaint, Marigny tricked a 13-year-old boy into sending him naked pictures, before revealing himself as a grown man and trying to convince the boy to meet for a sexual encounter. At some point during this, the victim’s mother figured out what was going on and tipped off the Alameda County Sheriff’s Office, which took over the boy’s Instagram account and continued talking to Marigny.
After a detective took over the account, Marigny sent photos of himself masturbating and talked about what he wanted to do to the boy, according to the complaint.
“So u want me to lay down and u gonna handle everything at ur pace, or u want me to take control, I might be too rough,” Marigny told Det. Sarah Bender, who was posing as the boy, according to the complaint. “I want to choke u a little, like gently squeeze.”
Over the last few weeks, a federal judge initially approved for Marigny to be released to a halfway house on $50,000 bond, but the decision was overturned after federal prosecutors appealed it. In late July, U.S. District Judge Beth Labson Freeman approved the prosecution motion to block Marigny’s release from jail. He remains in Santa Rita on a federal hold.
In her decision, Freeman wrote she was not satisfied in the halfway house’s ability to keep Marigny from getting back online during a pretrial release.
“While phones and computers may be placed out of reach to limit (Marigny’s) Internet access, they are overwhelmingly available in the community such that (Marigny) could gain access to the Internet with virtually no supervision and pretrial services would not be sufficiently alerted of (Marigny’s) breach of his conditions,” she wrote.
Authorities say anyone who believes they are a victim in this case can call Senior Inspector Darryl Holcombe at 925-957-2263.