Pastor attempts to cross border with girl in trunk

Published on Thu, Sep 18, 2003
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Pastor attempts to cross border with girl in trunk

A youth pastor who attempted to cross into Canada with a 16-year-old girl in his trunk was charged by authorities Tuesday with first degree sexual misconduct with a minor and possessing child pornography.

Michael O. Quillman, 30 of Norris City, Illinois, was driving a 1993 Dodge Spirit and the girl, also of Illinois, was in the trunk, apparently in an attempted smuggling.

The girl was interviewed by police and it appears the two were a couple, and heading to Alaska via Canada. Evidence in the vehicle indicated they had a sexual relationship, which included videos showing them engaging in sexual acts, pictures, pregnancy tests, and a storage chest containing wedding items. Other items included alcohol, a student planner, and a real estate guide.

Quillman was arrested and booked into Whatcom County Jail on Friday, September 12 and could face further charges in federal court because of their cross-country travels. He is scheduled to appear in court for the first time on Friday. The girl was turned over to child protective services.

Although the age of sexual consent in the state of Washington is 16, state law says adults can still be charged if there was a supervisory relationship with a person younger than 18 years old. Quillman told authorities he was the girl�s legal guardian and had a mutual consent placement form in the vehicle, which he says was signed by the girl�s mother. He is also the girl�s youth pastor.

Blaine police chief Mike Haslip said the problem posed by this �consensual� relationship is one of inappropriate and damaging undue influence by the adult in his position as a guardian with authority over the girl.

�The law in Washington protects kids from relationships of this kind, because the balance of power is skewed completely against the child,� he said. �There is a very real danger that the influence of an older adult�s supervisory role will destroy a child or teenager�s ability to logically think about what they are doing. The cards are stacked against them and there is no way they can safely say �no� so they acquiesce and obey their elder.�

That, he said, is a far cry from knowing and informed consent. �In cases like this the young person all too often ends up the pawn in an adult relationship which they can cannot understand, let alone control,� he said.

Agents arrest smugglers
Six Canadian citizens face federal drug smuggling charges following a predawn operation on Saturday, September 6, in the San Juan islands involving Blaine immigration and customs enforcement agents and marine enforcement officers, along with members of the U.S. Coast Guard.

The operation resulted in the seizure of 95 pounds of B.C. marijuana, worth about $885,000, and two pleasure crafts. The marijuana was packaged in plastic vacuum-sealed bags inside hockey equipment bags and was being transported from the Gulf Islands in Canada to Orcas Island on a Canadian pleasure boat.

Arrested were: Stephen Riddall, 53; Wendy Vopegelo, 42; Brian Reid, 28; Bob Byle, 22; Brenda Jean Miller, 45; and Daniel Johnson, 39.

All subjects are being prosecuted for federal violations in United States District Court Western District of Washington at Seattle. While the incident remains under investigation, special agents are seeking additional information. The public can call 332-6725.