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Victims Sought After Ex-Wilton Church Worker Charged With Youth Sex Assault

Ethan Z. Chandler
Ethan Z. Chandler Photo Credit: COURTESY: NJ Attorney General

WILTON, Conn. — New Jersey authorities who charged a former Fairfield County man with repeatedly sexually assaulting a 14-year-old boy he met on social media were searching for possible other victims.

Ethan Z. Chandler, 42, who once worked part-time at Hope Church in Wilton, "sent nude photos of himself to at least three juveniles and may have been having sexual relations with a second 14-year-old male," New Jersey Attorney General Christopher S. Porrino said.

Chandler "operates a video production company which involves filming sports events at schools across the region and which brings him into close contact with children," Porrino said. "[He] posts weekly video highlight packages of high school football on YouTube."

He also has a criminal history, having been arrested at a New Jersey mall in February 2014 after authorities said he kissed a young boy. The boy fled, but Chandler "admitted to police that he believed the youth was a minor" and later pleaded guilty to disorderly, the attorney general said.

New Jersey State Police detectives zeroed in on Chandler this time, Porrino said, after he tried to lure a 13-year-boy who turned out to be an undercover detective into a sexual encounter during a mobile chat.

Chandler, who had lived in Norwalk, Stamford and Monroe two decades ago, was arrested by NJSP investigators armed with a search warrant who seized computers, his cell phone and other potential evidence from his New Jersey home on Dec. 1, the attorney general said.

He'd been free on bail when the new information was discovered late last week following a probe by the State Police Digital Technology Investigations Unit (DTIU) and Division of Criminal Justice Cyber Crimes Unit, Porrino said.

He remained held on $200,000 bail Monday in the Essex County Jail in New Jersey after being re-arrested last Wednesday.

"The initial charge was based on the undercover investigation, which began when detectives spotted an ad allegedly placed by Chandler on Craigslist soliciting oral sex with a young man," Porrino said.

"An undercover detective with the State Police DTIU responded to the ad, indicating to Chandler that he was a 13-year-old male. Chandler allegedly asked the '13-year-old' to communicate with him using the mobile chat app Kik."

After that, Porrino said, Chandler "engaged in sexually explicit chats with the 'teen' on Kik in which he said he knew the teen was 13 but did not care."

He also "discussed meeting the teen so that he could perform oral sex on him," the attorney general said.

Chandler arranged a Nov. 23 meeting in Woodbridge, N.J., where he believed the boy lived, but then postponed it at the last minute, he said.

The resulting investigation brought State Police detectives to the alleged 14-year-old victim, who told them Chandler had oral and anal sex with him during at least three meetings at his Belleville apartment, Porrino said.

Chandler also "continued to communicate with the youth using various social media outlets," Porrino said.

“The allegations against Chandler reveal a dangerous sexual predator who used social media to satiate his desire for young victims,” Porrino said.

He asked any other potential victims to come forward by calling the New Jersey Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force Tipline at 888-648-6007.

All calls will remain confidential, he said.

"The Attorney General’s Office and the New Jersey State Police will exercise maximum care to protect the privacy of victims in this case and every case of this type," Porrino said. "Victims can rest assured that every precaution will be taken to protect them and their identity if they come forward with information."

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