A 23-year-old Ohio seminary student has been arrested in San Diego on federal charges relating to his alleged attempts to make arrangements to have sex with infants in Mexico. Joel A. Wright was taken into custody at San Diego International Airport by agents of the Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations (HSI). Wright was arrested after traveling to San Diego on January 29, allegedly in the hope of meeting a tour guide who he thought would take him to Tijuana, Mexico, so that he could meet female infants. It is alleged that it was his intent to have sex with at least three babies once he arrived in Tijuana.
Wright was pursuing seminary studies at the Pontifical College Josephinum in Columbus, Ohio. According to Father John Allen, school representative, Wright’s student privileges were terminated when he left campus on Friday without authorization. He added that the former student is also no longer a member of his diocese, which is located in Steubenville. Wright was a first year pre-theology student.
Father Allen made a formal statement on behalf of the school’s administration.
“We are shocked, saddened, and truly sickened by the intent of the alleged actions. We have zero tolerance for any type of misconduct, most especially that which would endanger children. The seminary is eager to help with the investigation.”
According to Fox Baltimore, Joel A. Wright was taken into custody as a result of a sting operation that began when investigators received a tip back in November from a man who stated that he had been in email correspondence with someone since 2014 who said that they were interested in adopting a child. The person had placed an ad on Craigslist expressing such and even paid the tipster an adoption fee for the privilege. It was later revealed, however, that the person who placed the ad wanted “to engage in illicit sexual conduct with female infants.” In one email, Wright is even reported to have written, “I have not gone all the way before but I have made it very close in the past so I do have experance [sic].” The tipster never provided a child to Wright, according to officials.
An undercover agent assumed the tipster’s identity and continued email correspondence with Wright. Wright continued to express that he wanted to travel to Tijuana for the purpose of adopting or owning a child under 3, allegedly to have sex with her.
On an even more sinister note, NBC San Diego writes that Wright planned to drug the infants with Tylenol and candy so that they would relax enough for him to have sex with them. In his email correspondences with the undercover law enforcement officer, he allegedly described in graphic detail what he wanted to do to the infants sexually and at one point even wrote, “It is so much more fun when it’s a bit of a struggle.”
ABC 10 reports that Wright was taken into custody at Lindbergh Field immediately after his plane landed on Friday morning.
Dave Shaw, special agent in charge for HSI Diego, stated that this investigation is a glimpse into the secret world of sex predators who victimize young children around the globe. He emphasized that pedophiles who thought that they were safe by committing sex acts against children outside the U.S. were mistaken because his agency would defend the rights of child victims no matter where they live.
Joel A. Wright has been charged with two federal counts: 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. His arraignment is scheduled to take place on Monday.
[Photo by Adam Berry/Getty Images]