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Former Medford pastor seeks 'compassionate release' from federal prison

Citing coronavirus concerns, a former Medford youth pastor and convicted sex offender serving a federal prison sentence wants to be released early.

Donald Courtney Biggs, 41, who was a youth pastor at Mtn. Church until his arrest for secretly recording juvenile girls in early 2015, was granted a public defender late last week to help him apply for “compassionate release” from a federal prison in Minnesota, according to a letter filed late last week in U.S. District Court in Medford.

In the letter filed May 14, Biggs said, “I fear for my life based on the fact that I cannot ‘social distance’ in prison.” He asked for release from prison “to go home to be with my loved ones to support them through this pandemic.”

In 2018, Biggs was sentenced to more than 15 years in federal prison for transporting a minor with intent to engage in criminal sexual activity. For more than two years, Biggs used a hidden camera to make recordings of juveniles changing clothes and showering on multiple church trips and summer camps — some of which occurred across state lines.

Biggs is lodged at a federal prison in Sandstone, Minnesota. The Federal Bureau of Prisons describes the all-male facility in Pine County as a “low security federal correctional institution” that houses 1,104 inmates. Biggs is slated to be released from the prison May 22, 2028, according to an inmate database.

A message to the Federal Bureau of Prisons seeking information about coronavirus cases at the prison was not returned by Thursday afternoon, but data show that the county where the facility is located makes up a negligible portion of Minnesota’s 17,029 confirmed cases, and none of the state’s 757 deaths.

As of Thursday, Pine County had recorded 83 COVID-19 cases and zero deaths, according to the state.

Biggs was the subject of national headlines in the summer of 2018 after a relative of a victim who was recorded lunged over the railing and landed a punch on Biggs in the middle of his sentencing hearing.

Biggs’ alleged attacker, Kevin Patrick Smith, was arrested on misdemeanor charges of obstructing judicial administration, fourth-degree assault and disorderly conduct. A GoFundMe page titled “Hero punches pedophile” raised $16,514 for Smith’s legal defenses, but the Jackson County District Attorney’s Office ultimately opted not to press charges.

Reach reporter Nick Morgan at 541-776-4471 or nmorgan@rosebudmedia.com. Follow him on Twitter @MTCrimeBeat.

Donald Courtney Biggs, a former Medford church youth pastor now serving a federal prison sentence for hidden camera recordings. File Jackson County Jail booking photo.