A young seminary student from Ohio flew across the United States on Friday in pursuit of a goal he had spent weeks discussing online in explicit detail: finding a baby, either through adoption or cash purchase, to sexually assault, the authorities say.
The flight was the first leg of an itinerary that was to lead to Mexico, but the seminarian, Joel A. Wright, was arrested at San Diego International Airport before he could continue the trip. Unbeknown to him, he had been trading s with undercover federal agents. Wright was arrested by Homeland Security Investigations, part of Immigration and Customs Enforcement, which said he had spent almost two years searching for female children under the age of 4 in Tijuana, Mexico, for a violent sexual encounter.
Federal prosecutors charged Mr. Wright on Friday with felony counts of traveling with the intent to engage in illicit sexual conduct with a minor and aggravated sexual abuse ofaccording to the complaint. Magistrate Judge Bernard G. Skomal appointed public defenders to represent Mr. Wright and scheduled a detention hearing for Thursday. Federal prosecutors filed a motion to keep Mr. Wright in custody, deeming him a flight risk and a danger to the community.
The Rev. John Allen, vice president of the college, described Mr. He said the seminary was eager to cooperate with law enforcement authorities in the investigation. Wright began his search on the Tijuana section of Craigslist, where he posted an advertisement in looking for to adopt, according to a criminal complaint filed on Friday.
He traveled to Mexico that July after someone responded to the ad, offering him. Wright returned to the United States alone.
The person in Tijuana was central to the investigation against Mr. The seminarian and the con artist encountered each other on Craigslist again a year later, when Mr. Wright posted an ad looking for a tour guide in Tijuana. The person who had defrauded him, using a new address, sent him a response.
During their correspondence, Mr. Wright said he was traveling to Mexico, in part to find a woman to marry and to adopt. Eventually, he said, he was interested in sexually assaulting female infants.
The person handed control of an address to Homeland Security on Dec. Those conversations continued for one week, during which Mr. Investigators bought him a plane ticket to San Diego on Dec. He said he wanted no further contact with them. But 18 days later, the seminarian was back on Craigslist.
He posted another ad looking for a female tour guide in Tijuana. The same person saw it and replied again, using a third address and posing as a guide.
Soon, their conversation turned to violent sexual assault of children, the complaint said. In passages reprinted in the criminal complaint, Mr. Homeland Security assumed control of the again on Jan. Ten days later, Mr. Wright boarded a flight to San Diego.
He expected his online contact to pick him up at baggage claim. Instead, agents swooped in and arrested him. A preliminary hearing in the case was scheduled for Feb. ZIP: 65265