Academy employee faces child porn charges

  • By Ted Scouten, CBS Miami
  • January 17, 2019

MIAMI (CBSMiami) – A Calvary Christian Academy employee is under arrest accused of possession of child porn. Broward Sheriff’s Office investigators say Jesus Mendez, 35, of Pembroke Pines, was arrested Wednesday after an investigation revealed he had downloaded several pornographic videos involving young girls.

BSO said they started their investigation in December and determined Mendez had been using his personal computer to download and share child pornography between July and December of 2018. Mendez admitted to police to downloading the porn and then storing it in a folder called “Jesus,” according to the arrest report.

“We did an interview,” said Sgt. Thomas McInerney with Broward Sheriff’s Office. “He did confessed to the downloading and possessing of child pornography. We also did a lot of forensics on scene of his digital evidence and we’ve located numerous images of child pornography.” Sgt. McInerney is with BSO’s Internet Crimes Against Children task force. He said his team found more than a hundred images on Mendez’ computer — mostly involving very young girls. “Extremely severe, disturbing images of children ranging in ages from 6-10 involved in sexual acts with adults,” said McInerney.

Police said they conducted a forensic review of the defendant’s computer and determined they matched the data captured by their investigative tool. The videos were located on an external drive attached to his laptop computer, authorities said.

Mendez is an IT specialist at the school and was previously employed by the Family and Children’s Ministry for 5 years at the school, court records indicate. Calvary Christian Academy is a private Christian school located in Fort Lauderdale.

Lenny Trujillo is a former church member. He, like many, finds that allegations disturbing. “It’s very sad and very horrific that this had to happen,” said Trujillo. “We just gotta keep our eyes open. I guess it can happen anywhere, especially at a church or a school, we have to have our utmost prevention.”

Mendez told police he had no desire to sexually abuse children outside watching child-porn videos. Mendez faces six counts of possession of child pornography and using a computer to compile child pornography.

Investigators belonging to a National Task Force known as the South Florida Internet Crimes Against Children (ICAC) conducted this investigation, police said.

Sgt. Thomas McInerney, with BSO’s ICAC, said his team found more than a hundred images on his computer — mostly involving very young girls.

The images were of children ranging in ages from 6-10 involved in sexual acts with adults, police said. “We do not believe he’s had any contact at this time, he hasn’t admitted to any contact in our investigation so far we have no evidence that he’s touched children or been inappropriate with children,” said McInerney. “But of course his access to children is concerning.”

The church released a statement saying they’re heartbroken by the allegations — going on to say, “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.” Bond for Mendez was set at more than $50,000. If released, he is ordered to have no contact with minor children.

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