An IT worker at a Fort Lauderdale private school who said he’d worked with the school’s Family and Children’s Ministry previously is in Broward County Jail on seven child pornography charges.
Pembroke Pines resident Jesus Mendez, 35, was suspended Wednesday from his job at Fort Lauderdale’s Calvary Christian Academy after his 5:30 a.m. Wednesday arrest by Broward Sheriff’s Office on six charges of child pornography possession and one count of using a computer to compile child pornography. His bond is $52,500.
According to Mendez’s probable cause affidavit, he said he has been an IT technician for two years at Calvary Christian. Before that, he said, he worked in a position related to the school’s Family and Children’s Ministry for five years.
“(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 affidavit said the South Florida Internet Crimes Against Children national task force received a tip in December about an IP address that had been advertising or sharing child porn images since July. The trail led to Mendez’s home, where he was arrested in front of his mother.
After his arrest, the affidavit claims, Mendez waived his right to remain silent and talked with BSO detectives. He said he downloaded the child pornography files onto his laptop, then moved it to an external hard drive, where he stored them in a folder called “Jesus.”
The affidavit says Mendez admitted viewing a video he possessed of a 6- to 8-year-old girl wearing a pink mask while an adult male rapes her. Four other videos were found on Mendez’s external hard drive, the report said.
Mendez doesn’t have a previous criminal record. He was a licensed physician assistant from 2009 to 2012 with no discipline reports.
Calvary Chapel of Fort Lauderdale, Calvary Christian’s parent church, put a message to parents on its website Wednesday afternoon:
“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. 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.”