Online predator: NJ youth pastor had more male victims, police say
A Burlington County youth pastor accused of blackmailing teen boys online into recording sexual videos of themselves has now been linked to at least 13 victims, according to law enforcement.
Sean Higgins, 31, of Palmyra, would pretend to be a teen girl on either Snapchat or Instagram to begin his chats, according to Burlington County Prosecutor LaChia Bradshaw.
He was first accused of the crimes while serving as youth pastor and music leader at Harbor Baptist Church in Hainesport in 2020.
Higgins also was a teacher at the Harbor Baptist Academy, a private K-12 school within the same facility, at that time.
A Burlington County Grand Jury has indicted Higgins on 75 total charges — 13 of them first-degree — that include endangering the welfare of a child, aggravated sexual assault, criminal sexual contact, cyber harassment, and obscenity to a minor.
Each of the victims ranged in age from 12 to 17, living in New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Alabama, Michigan, Minnesota, South Dakota and Tennessee, according to investigators.
There was no physical contact in any of the cases and none of the known victims were members of the church congregation or students at the school, Bradshaw said.
Fake teen girl profile
After introducing himself as “Julie Miller” to each of the teen boys, Higgins would then suggest that they trade photos — sending each juvenile victim a photo of an unidentified female teen, investigators said.
In return, Higgins would often receive nude photos that the victims took of themselves, according to the prosecutor's office.
Immediately upon receiving those images, Bradshaw said that Higgins would take a screenshot of the victim’s visible friends list and threaten to share the boy’s own nude photos unless the victim did exactly what Higgins demanded.
In most of the cases investigated, Higgins then demanded that his victims masturbate or perform sexual acts on themselves in a video chat as Higgins recorded, according to the prosecutor — even as many of the boys would audibly beg for him to stop taping.
The first case linked to Higgins involved a Pennsylvania boy in Berks County, who contacted Snapchat and reported that he sent nude photos of himself to someone he believed to be a teen girl, according to the prosecutor's office.
The unknown female, who in actuality was Higgins, had then threatened to expose his
nude photographs after they exchanged pictures, investigators said.
That was followed by a similar report from an underage male in Alabama, according to authorities.
Higgins has remained in Burlington County Jail since being arrested at his home in October 2020.
Anyone who believes their child has had inappropriate interaction on Snapchat or Instagram with someone going by the user name of Julie Miller, Julia Miller, or some variation of that name, has been asked to call Burlington County Central Communications at 609- 265-7113, or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.