Broward church worker fired after child porn arrest

FORT LAUDERDALE, FLA. (WSVN) - A Fort Lauderdale church employee has been fired after he was arrested for allegedly possessing child pornography.

Authorities have identified the man as 35-year-old Jesus Mendez Jr. He faces six counts of possession of child pornography.

Mendez worked as an information technology administrator at Calvary Chapel and Christian Academy, a megachurch and private school in Fort Lauderdale.

Thursday evening, his employer confirmed he is no longer a Calvary employee.

In an email, a spokesperson for Calvary Chapel stated, “Based on information provided to us in the [Broward Sheriff’s Office] press release and available court filings related to the arrest, Jesus Mendez has been terminated.”

After searching Mendez’s Pembroke Pines home on Wednesday, BSO detectives found numerous downloaded photos and videos of very young children on his computer.

“After an interview, he gave a confession that he had downloaded child pornography, and we did find numerous pictures on his computer,” said BSO Sgt. Tom McInerney.

Mendez was then taken into custody. On Thursday, he appeared in bond court.

“The court’s main concern at this point is any future criminal activity if he’s released,” said Broward Circuit Judge John Hurley.

Officials said Mendez had worked as an IT technician at the school and megachurch for about two years. Before that, he was a volunteer coordinator in Calvary’s Family and Children’s Ministry.

Parishioners were alarmed to hear about Mendez’s arrest.

“I’m sad ’cause I live in the community, so it affects our community. It affects all of us,” said Lenny Trujillo, “but it’s really sad for this to happen.”

Investigators said Mendez has had access to children in the past. He denied having inappropriate physical contact with them.

However, detectives want to ensure none of the children were Mendez’s victims, so they are urging the community to come forward with information about the suspect.

“We have no evidence or information to believe that he’s been hands on or been inappropriate with children at all, but of course, having access to kids or being around kids is a concern for us,” said McInerney.

Officials said Mendez lives with his mother at his Pembroke Pines home. She attended his bond hearing on Thursday.

Mendez’s mother declined to comment on her son’s charges as she left the courtroom.

A spokesperson for Calvary Chapel issued a statement that read, “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. Our hearts are broken by this news, and we are grieved by this revelation.”

Mendez is being held at the Broward County Jail on a bond of just over $52,000. As of 5:30 p.m., Thursday, he has posted bond but still has not been released.

If you have any information that could help investigators, call Broward County Crime Stoppers at 954-493-TIPS. Remember, you can always remain anonymous, and you may be eligible for a $3,000 reward.

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