Man arrested in child porn case volunteered with church kids

Sept. 28, 2012 at 4:28 a.m.
Updated Sept. 29, 2012 at 4:29 a.m.

Joshua Almeida

Joshua Almeida

The Victoria man arrested on child pornography charges Thursday was a volunteer with the children's ministry at Faith Family Church.

Officers arrested Joshua Almeida, 32, of Victoria, about 9:20 p.m. and charged him with possession of child pornography with intent to distribute.

Stephanie Petrash has been going to Faith Family Church with Almeida for about 15 years. She also volunteers with him in the children's department.

Petrash said she has never seen Almeida try to be alone with children or witnessed children acting uncomfortable around him.

"He has not been convicted," Petrash said. "I think he needs our prayers and to not be judged prematurely ... I'm sure the truth will come out as the investigation continues."

Josh Joines, creative pastor at Faith Family Church, confirmed Almeida was a volunteer but said Faith Family Church has strict policies in place to keep children safe.

"No volunteer is allowed to be alone with a child, period," he said. "We have background checks done on all volunteers who work with children under the age of 18 and we are cooperating with the police department."

Petrash said she has seen that policy strictly enforced.

"As a volunteer, it is really impossible to spend one-on-one time with a kid," Petrash said.

Almeida does not have a criminal record in Texas, according to a background check from the Department of Public Safety.

Sgt. Daniel Simons of the Victoria County Sheriff's Office said the incident is under investigation.

"Normal procedure is you look at what they have and look to see if it might develop other cases ... But we have no indications of criminal activity involving Faith Family," Simons said.

Joines said no one from the church has come forward with complaints about Almeida.

However, Simons said if anyone has knowledge of criminal acts they would like to bring forward, they can contact the sheriff's office or the Victoria Police Department.

Still, Anna Deluna, a neighbor of Almeida's, said in an email the arrest made her uncomfortable.

"I do find it very disturbing that I live a couple doors down from a person that was in possession of that kind of material," Deluna said. "I have five children, so you can just imagine what I was thinking when I found out what was going on."

Almeida was arrested after officers from the Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force served a warrant in the 4200 block of Halsey Street on Thursday morning.

Simons said they found a substantial amount of child porn in the first scan of confiscated materials. The arrest of Almeida followed.



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