Prison for Dover church leader who sexted girl

Liz Evans Scolforo

A former youth-group leader of a Dover Township church accused of "sexting" girls in the youth group and asking them for inappropriate photos has been sentenced to prison.

Curvin "Tug" Bankert III

Curvin Raymond Bankert III, known as "Tug," was sentenced Monday in York County Court to nine to 23 months in York County Prison, plus three years' probation, according to court records. He also was ordered to undergo treatment for sexual offenders and have no contact with a young woman in the case.

Bankert, 35, of the 7600 block of Lincoln Highway in Abbottstown, Adams County, must report to prison April 15, Common Pleas Judge Maria Musti Cook ordered.

He pleaded guilty Dec. 18 as part of a negotiated plea agreement to one count of unlawful contact with a minor, a third-degree felony. In exchange for his plea, charges including possession of child pornography and corruption of minors were dropped, court records state.

Northern York County Regional Police in January 2015 filed charges against Bankert, who had been a youth-group leader at Lighthouse Baptist Church, 5005 Carlisle Road.

According to charging documents, Bankert started texting a girl five to seven years ago, when the girl was 12, after meeting her through his youth work at the church.

They texted briefly and Bankert asked for topless pictures, which she didn't send, police said. They stopped texting when the older sister of the girl's friend caught the girl and her friend texting him, documents state.

The girl's parents found out and her mother contacted the church's pastor about it, according to documents. The church pastor had a "one-on-one" meeting with Bankert, the mother told police.

Rekindled: The girl told police she and Bankert started texting again a year later, according to documents.

"It got weird this time," the girl told police.

Bankert gave her $150 to go to Six Flags amusement park — a trip she wouldn't have been able to afford otherwise, according to documents.

She and a friend, who also was an underage girl, began meeting him at his shop in Hanover, according to police, and when he started asking them for inappropriate pictures of themselves, they began sending them — including photos of the girls in the shower, documents state.

Hanover Borough records and online records indicate Bankert has an auto-detailing business in the 500 block of Broadway.

Third girl: A third friend began coming with them sometime during the fall of 2013, and he began sexting her in January 2014, police said.

"He would bug me to send him pictures," she told police, so she did, documents state.

"We should hook up and have sex," Bankert allegedly told this friend, according to documents.

Parents of this friend and of the original girl found out and spoke to the church clergy again, and both remember Bankert apologizing for his actions, according to the documents.

Church response: At the time of Bankert's arrest in January 2015, Pastor Sterling Walsh said Bankert had not been in a leadership position at Lighthouse Baptist Church for at least two years, but he declined to comment about why Bankert no longer held the position.

Walsh said the church conducts all state-required criminal background checks.

Bankert's defense attorney, Elisabeth Pasqualini, did not return a phone message seeking comment. A phone number for Bankert could not be found.

Prosecutors who handled the case declined comment, according to Kyle King, spokesman for the York County District Attorney's Office.

— Reach Liz Evans Scolforo at