Seminarian Pleads Guilty to Child-sex Charge
By William Dotinga
Courthouse News Service
April 13, 2016
A former seminary student on Wednesday pleaded guilty to federal charges relating to his efforts to adopt female infants and toddlers from Tijuana in order to sexually molest them, the Justice Department said.
In the plea agreement, Joel Alexander Wright admitted to placing ads on Craigslist Tijuana for the purpose of adopting or buying a baby girl under the age of three because he wanted "to have intercourse with her after I own her."
Wright further admitted that after federal agents took over the email account of the person he had been corresponding with, he wrote that "I think one fun thing we could do at the same time with the infant baby is you could be in her mouth with your thing and I could be penetrating her so she would be getting it from both ways," according to the plea agreement.
He added, "With the four-year-old I think I will spank her a while to warm her up and make her a little angry so we can chase her around the place, and I will penetrate her very hard which will be fun and if she is angry at me she will be even more fun because she will probably try to get away and it is so much more fun when it is a bit of a struggle."
Federal authorities arrested Wright at San Diego International Airport in January after a months-long sting. Wright believed he had traveled to San Diego to meet his procurer but had been communicating with undercover agents all along.
Agents found baby clothes, sleep aids, bottles, toys, candy and personal lubricant in Wright's duffel bag, as well as two cellphones.
Wright — who had been studying to become a priest at the Pontifical College Josephinum in Columbus, Ohio before his arrest — initially denied the charges, pleading not guilty in February.
Under the plea agreement, Wright pleaded guilty to attempted enticement of a minor. He faces no less than 10 years and up to life in prison, a $250,000 fine and lifetime registration as a sex offender.
The seminary has since expelled Wright, with the school's vice president calling the accusations against Wright "shocking, sickening and horrifying."
U.S. Attorney Laura Duffy echoed that sentiment on Wednesday.
"There are no words to describe the horror that might have happened, had an innocent baby been placed in this man's arms," Duffy said. "There is nothing more important on my agenda than keeping children safe from pedophiles."
Wright is scheduled to be sentenced July 1 by U.S. District Judge Dana Sabraw