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Norfolk pastor charged with possession of child porn admits he’s had problems previously

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Posted at 7:33 PM, Apr 02, 2013
and last updated 2013-04-03 06:30:26-04

Norfolk, Va. - A Norfolk pastor, charged with possession of child porn, admitted he's had problems in the past and has sought treatment since seminary school.

35-year-old David Smith testified at his bond hearing in Norfolk District Court Monday where he told the judge he had been seeking counseling since seminary school for some of his issues.

Dr. Rick Ellis, a licensed clinical psychologist located in Virginia Beach, explains why there wouldn't have been any public information of Smith's previous treatment.

“We have to protect the confidentiality of our patient. They have to feel free to be able to speak with us about their concerns openly," says Ellis.

Smith served for two years as pastor at Trinity Lutheran Church in Norfolk.

His attorney says he admitted to having child porn last week.

According to the church's website, the Trinity Lutheran congregation is part of the "Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod."

NewsChannel 3 found a 2012 policy manual for the Synod which shows a background check is done on any pastor applying to be recognized by it.

But, as Dr. Ellis says, there would be no information regarding a person's mental health history unless that person expressed danger to themselves or someone else.

"A psychologist that may have been treating someone with such a problem would not be able to release any information until there's imminent harm that may occur,” says Ellis.

Smith was granted bond, Monday. His attorney, Howard Copeland, said his client will most likely seek in-patient treatment moving forward.

He is also considering a 12-step program.

NewsChannel 3 spoke with a public relations officer with the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod who told us that each individual congregation "calls" and "places" their own pastor when they have an opening.