A church in Plant City, Florida will likely be taking a closer look at its background check policies after a youth group volunteer was arrested for child pornography charges. The volunteer in question has been associated with Plant City's Church of the Rock for several years and has been working with children for the bulk of that time.
The good news is that no reports have yet come out that the volunteer, a 28-year-old Plant City resident, took advantage of any children while working at the Church of the Rock. He also turned himself in to authorities after co-workers began to notice inappropriate images on his computer. The church staff, suspicious of him, reported the illicit content to local police. The volunteer went in and confessed to child pornography crimes after the church's report, confirming the suspicions of his co-workers.
According to a report from a Tampa Bay CBS affiliate, Grady Judd, the Sheriff for Polk County, thanked the staff at the Church of the Rock for speaking up when they noticed something wrong with this subject. It's often easy to overlook suspicious behavior when it comes to friends or co-workers, but because he was working with children while viewing child pornography, Judd says it would be impossible to be too careful.
The subject's admission of guilt indicated that he has been viewing child pornography for about a year and a half. In addition, a free app called Kik was found on his phone, and he was allegedly using it to distribute and trade child pornography with others.
A statement from Jeffrey Howell, the pastor for Plant City's Church of the Rock, helped to illuminate how this person was apprehended for his predatory misdeeds as well as what sort of background checks the church uses on volunteers. Howell said that when this subject hooked up his phone to one of the church's computers, four pornographic images of children made their way from the device to the computer. Howell assured readers that the images had not depicted any of the children at the church and that he had no reason to believe that this perrsonn had actually produced pornographic images.
As for background checks, Howell said that the Church of the Rock had screened him thoroughly before allowing him to volunteer as part of children's ministry. Workers and volunteers also go through extensive "children's safety training" as part of their pre-screening requirement. Finally, Howell noted that he and the rest of the church community would "continue to work diligently to ensure the safety of our children." Whether or not that means the church is considering revamped criminal and sex offender background screenings remains to be seen.