A man who was studying to be a priest at the Pontifical College Josephinum in Columbus was arrested on federal charges Friday, accused of trying to travel to Mexico to have sex with multiple infants.
The suspect was taken into custody at San Diego International Airport by special agents with U.S. Immigration and Custom Enforcement, following a monthslong investigation.
According to the federal criminal complaint, an undercover ICE agent received a tip that prompted the agent to take over an email account and begin corresponding with Wright.
The suspect believed he was still communicating with a Mexico-based male tour guide whom he had met after placing an ad on Craigslist. During the email conversations with the ICE investigator, “Wright allegedly stated that he wanted to travel to Tijuana to adopt or own a child under 3 years old and rape the child.”
In other emails Wright also stated his intent to shoot video of the sexual assaults, court records say.
The suspect later booked a flight from Ohio and made arrangements to meet the friend of the tour guide at San Diego’s Lindbergh Field. Wright planned to travel across the border with the tour guide to a Tijuana hotel, where he would meet the helpless female infants.
Immigration and Customs Enforcement said in a statement that 23-year-old Joel A. Wright was taken into custody after getting off a plane in San Diego.
Joel Wright, a seminary student and resident of Columbus, was charged with two felony counts: crossing state lines with the intention to engage in a sexual act with a minor, and attempting to travel “in interstate and foreign commerce” for the purpose of engaging in illegal sexual conduct with another person, according to a criminal complaint filed in U.S. District Court by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of California.
Wright is expected to be arraigned on Monday.
Photos provided by ICE show plainclothes agents taking Wright into custody on a sidewalk outside of a terminal at the airport, a spokeswoman for the agency said. One of the images shows a handcuffed man in a baseball cap being escorted away by Homeland Security personnel.
Joel Wright was expelled from the Josephinum, on the Far North Side, on Friday morning because he had left school without permission, said the Rev. John Allen, a spokesman for the school. Joel believed he couldn’t be prosecuted if he committed the crime in Mexico..
Anyone with information about suspected child predators or suspicious activity was encouraged to call U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s tip line at 866-DHS-2-ICE or complete its online tip form.
With the way Joel looks his crime is not surprising to me at all. He definitely looks like a weirdo who females are absolutely not attracted to. Males who look like Joel often commit crimes like this.. I can find no information that backs this up, but Joel looks like he could be legally blind or something and the red stick in his had seems like it might be a walking stick….