Church volunteer charged with sex crimes, arraigned in federal court

Pinkowski is tentatively scheduled for a continued pretrial conference at 1 p.m. May 8 in the 1st Judicial Circuit Court.

GRAND RAPIDS — A Jonesville man who fled to the Philippines to avoid prosecution on dozens of child sex abuse charges last summer is back in custody in Michigan after being extradited back to the United States.

Tye Braxton Stiger, 36, made his initial appearance in the United States District Court for the Western District of Michigan in Grand Rapids on Tuesday, Feb. 14, after a federal grand jury indicted him on charges of two counts of sexual exploitation of a child, two counts of attempted sexual exploitation of a minor and one count of possession of child pornography.

“These sexual exploitation and child pornography allegations are extremely disturbing and serious,” said U.S. Attorney Mark Totten. “My office is committed to protecting our youngest and most vulnerable citizens – our children.”

The Hillsdale County Prosecutor’s Office referred the matters to the U.S. Attorney’s Office last summer after issuing a 34-count warrant for his arrest with several accusations stemming from Stiger’s volunteer work at local churches where he allegedly sexually assaulted several minors.

“Given the nature and severity of the offenses Mr. Stiger is accused of, we believe it would be in the best interests of the community and the best use of our resources for the child sexually abusive material charges to be handled by the United States Attorney’s Office at this time,” Chief Assistant Prosecutor Jamie Wisniewski said.

Local charges are still pending but will be amended, Wisniewski added.

Wisniewski issued a press release July 19, 2022, seeking information leading to Stiger’s arrest after a lengthy investigation culminated in an arrest warrant being issued.

More:Church volunteer charged with child pornography possession

Stiger was then arrested in early August by the Bureau of Immigration in Diego Cera Avenue, Las Pinas City near the Philippine capital of Manila. Filippino authorities worked in conjunction with the U.S. Marshals.

More:Accused child predator to be extradited back to U.S.

Stiger — a former church volunteer linked to at least two local churches over the past decade — came under investigation of the Michigan State Police in February 2022 when a former victim of his came forward.

The victim alleged that Stiger sexually abused her as a child between 2009 and 2015 while Stiger acted as a Sunday school teacher.

The incidents occurred at several homes where he resided and during a church camping trip.

As a result of the police investigation, a search warrant was executed at Stiger’s home on Feb. 23, 2022, where a number of devices were seized from the home including cell phones and computers.

An analysis of the devices by the MSP Crime Lab determined the devices contained images and video of suspected child sexually abusive material.

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There were over a dozen videos of Stiger placing a hidden camera at various locations to secretly record minor children changing and many of the children in the videos remain unidentified.

The prosecutor’s office charged Stiger with one count of child sexually abusive activity, 10 counts of possession of child sexually abusive material, four counts of a video depicting child sexually abusive material, 15 counts of using a computer to commit a felony, three counts of eavesdropping and two counts of second-degree criminal sexual conduct.

The prosecutor’s office said that Stiger was known to volunteer with the Hillsdale Assembly of God and Hillsdale United Brethren Church communities.

— Contact Reporter Corey Murray at or follow him on Twitter: @cmurrayHDN.

This article originally appeared on Hillsdale Daily News: Church volunteer charged with sex crimes, arraigned in federal court