UPDATE:: Former seminarian indicted, pleads not guilty to child sex crime charges
Joel Wright, a former student at a Columbus seminary, was formally charged Wednesday in Southern California on charges he attempted to travel out of the country to rape underage children.
A grand jury indicted Wright on one count of attempting to cross state lines “with intent to engage in a sexual act with a person who had not attained the age of 12 years,” and a count of traveling, and attempting to travel, from Ohio to California and Mexico “for the purpose of engaging in any illicit sexual conduct with another person.”
Wright was arraigned on the charges Thursday and pleaded not guilty.
UPDATE:: Seminarian Jailed on Child Sex Charges
Note: This article is graphic with many details that will make you want to throw things. It is this depravity of man against man, in this case child, that makes me wonder if what I do is worth it.
An Ohio seminary student who was arrested by federal authorities on suspicion of trying to buy Mexican children will remain behind bars until his arraignment later this month.
U.S. District Judge Bernard Skomal heard from defendant Joel Alexander Wright, 23, who shuffled into the courtroom wearing an orange jumpsuit, spectacles and ankle shackles. Through his attorney Greg Murphy, Wright waived his right to a detention hearing until he is arraigned later this month.
Wright was arrested by federal authorities on Jan. 29 at the San Diego International Airport on suspicion of travel with intent to engage in illicit sexual conduct and aggravated sexual abuse of a child.
UPDATE:: Steubenville police had investigated former seminary student in 2015 after he offered to babysit kids
Wright had come to the attention of authorities before. Steubenville police investigated Wright last year when a woman reported he had offered to pay someone $150 on Craigslist to watch children.
The ad said parents could stay with the children, see how it goes and then leave to go shopping or to a movie.
Wright told a mother who responded to the ad that he was a student at Franciscan University.
Police investigated, but did not find anyone at the address tied to the ad.
UPDATE:: How The So-Called Tipster Scammed, Then Exposed Joel Wright__
The criminal complaint corroborates the story and reveals Wright was set to board a plane again in December 2015 for Tijuana when investigators say he called the whole thing off.
"Please don't ever contact me again for anything," Wright e-mailed.
The informant tells 10TV federal agents accused him of tipping Wright off, an accusation he denies. “[I told the agents] what are you talking about? I want you guys to get this guy because he's crazy.”
The tipster claims it wasn't long before he spotted Wright online again; this time seeking a female tour guide in Tijuana. The man says he posed as a woman, and says again Wright shared explicit details of his intentions to have sex with young children. The informant says he urged HSI to bring Wright to justice.
"If you guys (federal agents) don't want him, let me bring him here to Tijuana. I'll take care of him here in Tijuana,” he cryptically told 10TV.
Wright was arrested by federal agents on January 29 deplaning in San Diego, en route to Mexico.
HSI in San Diego declined 10TV’s repeated requests to discuss the case, but federal agents did request a copy of our entire raw interview with the tipster.
Meanwhile, the so-called informant says he also made a phone call to Father John Allen, vice president at the Pontifical College Josephinum, where Wright was studying to become a priest.
"I need to talk to you because there is one of your seminary students who is asking me to find him an infant to molest in Mexico,” the informant told Father Allen.
Allen confirms receiving a phone call, and tells 10TV he briefly put the caller on hold. However, the informant said after staying on hold for around two minutes, he hung up.
Father Allen says the caller didn't share a specific name and it's not uncommon for the Josephinum to receive prank calls.
However, the alleged informant says he also sent Father Allen an e-mail explaining his story.
An Ohio seminary student accused of traveling to San Diego to have sex with infants in Mexico was arrested after his plane landed at the San Diego airport Friday, authorities said.
Joel Wright, 23, was taken into federal custody and charged with two felony counts, including traveling with the intent to engage in a sexual act with a minor and attempting to engage in illicit sexual conduct in a foreign country within the Southern District of California, according to the criminal complaint.
After receiving a tip, a Homeland Security Investigations undercover agent took over an email account and began a conversation with Wright, who believed he was communicating with a Mexico-based tour guide he met after placing an online ad.
Man accused of flying to San Diego for sex with minors | SanDiegoUnionTribune.com
Ohio seminary student accused of trying to arrange sex with baby in Mexico
Wright attends Pontifical College Josephinum in Columbus. A school spokesman, the Rev. John Allen, tells the Columbus Dispatch they are "shocked and saddened" at the "reprehensible" allegations. Wright has been expelled.Former Columbus seminary student charged after allegedly trying to have sex with babies in Mexico
The HSI says the investigation began in 2015, after a person tipped them off about a previous encounter he had with Wright.
The tipster told HSI that he met Wright in Tijuana in 2014, as Wright was allegedly hoping to adopt a child. Wright allegedly traveled to Tijuana and payed the adoption fee, but the tipster never returned to make the deal.
Last July, Homeland Security investigators say Wright used Craigslist again to find a tour guide in Tijuana. By November, investigators say the conversation turned to Wright expressing his desire to have sex with an infant.
“I have not gone all the way before but I have made it very close in the past so I do have (experience),” he said.