Jesus Mendez Jr., 35, was reportedly employed as the IT administrator at Calvary Chapel and Christian Academy in Fort Lauderdale.
He faces seven counts of possession of child pornography. He is being held on $52,500 bond at the Broward County Jail. The press did not name an attorney for him.
According to the arrest report, the South Florida Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force received a tip in December about an IP address in Pembroke Pines that had been advertising or sharing child pornography since July.
Broward Sheriff’s Office (BSO) detectives tracked the IP address to the school employee’s home, which he shares with his mother. They executed a search warrant at his home on Wednesday and reportedly found several downloaded images and videos of young girls on his computer.
“[Mendez] denied any desire to sexually abuse children outside of watching the child pornography videos,” the affidavit said. “However, he did admit that he is sexually gratified and masturbates to the videos.”
The employee waived his right to remain silence and spoke to BSO detectives, the affidavit claims. He allegedly admitted to viewing a video of a girl who is at least 6 years old wearing a pink mask while a man rapes her. Four other videos were found on his external hard drive, the report said.
Investigators said the school employee has had access to children through his employment, but he denied having any inappropriate physical contact with them. However, police want to make sure that none of the children were the employee’s victims, so they are urging anyone with information to come forward.
A spokesperson for Calvary Chapel told the press that the accused had passed multiple background checks and a preliminary investigation found no sign of inappropriate activity on school property. Calvary Chapel issued the following statement:
“We have a strong commitment to child safety and security here at Calvary Chapel, and at this time, we have no evidence to suggest that any of this took place here or on the church’s secure network,” the statement read. “We believe places of worship should be among the safest places in the world and we are advocates for vulnerable children.
“Our hearts are broken by this news, and we are grieved by this revelation. Child pornography is not a victimless crime. It grieves the heart of our Savior. Let’s take some time to pray for victims of child pornography and any victims of sexual exploitation of any kind.”
The spokesperson told news sources that the 35-year-old employee was fired after his arrest. He had reportedly been an IT technician at Calvary Chapel for two years. Before that, he had worked at the school’s Family and Children’s Ministry for five years. He doesn’t have any previous criminal record.
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