COLUMBUS — Shock and sadness. That's the reaction from a Columbus seminary community tonight, after a man, studying to become a priest is accused of trying to adopt a baby, in Mexico, for sex.
Right now, Joel Wright is in federal custody, in Southern California. Wright was a student at the Pontifical College Josephinum, in North Columbus. Homeland security investigators say he placed ads on Craigslist looking to travel to Tijuana to adopt. They arrested him yesterday in San Diego, as they say he made his way to Mexico.
School leaders found out about the alleged incident yesterday. They say they have a no tolerance policy for it and will do what they can to help investigators piece together what happened.
It's rich traditions are steeped in protecting everyone, especially children, according to the Pontifical College Josephinum's Reverend John Allen. "Preserving a climate of perfect transparency where the flourishing of each person can be assured," Reverend Allen said.
But, that climate of faith was interrupted, when authorities arrested the former student. According to a federal complaint: Wright traveled to Tijuana, Mexico in July 2014, but the person who was supposed to help him with the adoption process backed out. Homeland security got involved. In the complaint, wright stated in an email dated January 14, "I want to adopt/own a baby girl under the age of 3 and I want to have intercourse with her after I own her but don't be telling people that."
"Such actions are both handouts and reprehensible," Reverend Allen said.
Reverend Allen says Wright has a bachelor's degree, was enrolled in a 6-year program at the college, and in his first semester. "Typically, our first year students are not involved as all of our other students are in serving in parishes," Reverend Allen said.
Allen doesn't know Wright well, but tells us he also participated in prayer, meals, class, and recreational activities and was sponsored by the Diocese of Steubenville to gain admission. "Interviews at several levels with many people. Psychological testing. Verification of education, of employment," Reverend Allen said.
Wright is no longer a student at the college. Reverend Allen says moving forward, it's important to let both faith and justice play their parts.
Wright is facing two charges. He's expected in federal court Monday.