A Fort Lauderdale private Christian academy employee is behind bars and facing charges related to child pornography.
Jesus Mendez, 35, worked at the IT help desk of Calvary Christian Academy and was arrested Wednesday morning, school officials told the school community in a letter. He also previously served at Calvary Kids.
The letter said Mendez was suspended immediately.
Broward Sheriff's Office officials said the Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force received information in December that a computer at a home in Pembroke Pines had been sharing child pornography images.
Investigators executed a search warrant at the home and came in contact with Mendez, who admitted to downloading child pornography, officials said.
Mendez has worked at Calvary for seven years, the last two as an IT technician and the previous five as a volunteer coordinator in the Family and Children's Ministry, BSO officials said.
According to school officials, Mendez passed multiple background checks, and a preliminary investigation found no sign of inappropriate activity on school property. They did not specify how long he has been employed there.
In the letter, school officials also encouraged people to come forward with information that may help investigators.
Online inmate records say Mendez is facing seven charges of possession of material including sexual conduct by a child. A judge on Thursday ordered Mendez to be held on $52,500 bond, confiscated his passport, and prohibited from leaving Broward County if he bonds out. Mendez was also ordered to wear an ankle monitor and to stay away from children.
"Our hearts are broken by this news and we are grieved by this revelation. Child pornography is not a victimless crime," school officials said in a statement. "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."