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A Cape Town church youth leader accused of sexually preying on scores of teenage boys online was refused bail on Friday.

The 27-year-old man appeared in Bellville Magistrate’s Court charged with contravening the Electronic Communications and Transactions Act‚ which governs cyber crime.

The prosecutor opposed bail and the man was remanded in custody until March 27.

He has already made several appearances at Wynberg Magistrate’s Court since his first arrest in September 2017 and is due to appear again in April.

Police said the new charge covered “similar offences”. Prosecutors are expected to combine the two cases before the trial.

TimesLIVE reported in September that the Common Ground Church youth leader allegedly posted pictures of scantily clad women on WhatsApp and Instagram to entice more than 50 boys to send him explicit photographs. He then threatened to make their photos public unless they sent him more revealing images.

In addition to boys aged 12 to 17 from some of the church’s nine congregations‚ the man’s alleged victims included pupils at a number of leading Cape Town boys’ schools‚ where he presented himself as a sports photographer and a church youth worker.

The Hawks and the US Department of Homeland Security launched an investigation after the parents of a boy found evidence of the exchanges on their 14-year-old son’s cellphone and alerted church leaders.

The suspect was charged with possession of child pornography and failing to report knowledge of the commission of a sexual offence with children. He was released on R1[tooltip id=”4500c2f113202943ff1ae30d00c9d4ac”] [/tooltip]000 bail and ordered to have no contact with state witnesses.[tooltip type=”box” html=”Input Your Content Here” box_background_color=”#eeeeee” box_opacity=”0.95″ box_padding=”10″ box_border_color=”#3F3F3F” box_border_width=”1″ box_border_radius=”0″ id=”4500c2f113202943ff1ae30d00c9d4ac” /]

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