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Florida Youth Pastor Allegedly Used Church WiFi to Download Child Porn

His father is the lead pastor at the church

A Florida youth pastor and public school teacher has been arrested on child pornography charges and is accused of using the church’s wifi to download images.

The Putnam County Sheriff’s Department said Edward Wilds III, 44, of Palatka allegedly downloaded pornography images using Palatka Baptist Temple’s wifi following a Wednesday evening service.

His father, Edward Wilds II, is lead pastor at the church, per ChurchLeaders.

The sheriff’s office received a cyber-tip from a social media site on May 22 of last year. Detectives took possession of Wilds’ electronic devices and completed a forensic download, discovering 54,000 images on accounts and devices associated with Wilds, most of them pornographic.

The sheriff’s office said images from the download included a male child exposing his genitals to the camera.

Wilds told detectives he had been banned by one social media site several times.

Detectives also discovered conversations where Wilds was asked by another user for images of children between the ages of 14 and 16 years old and sent 42 images.

He was suspended immediately by the Putnam County School District and removed from his classroom at Middleton-Burney Elementary School.

“This is a clear-cut case of child sexual exploitation and I’m deeply troubled by the commission of such heinous crime in our hometown,” Sheriff H.D. ‘Gator’ DeLoach said. “Wilds’ behavior is disgusting, vile, and repugnant and I will not tolerate it in our county. Today’s arrest of Wilds for possession of child pornography serves as a stark reminder that we all have a responsibility to be vigilant in protecting our children from all forms of abuse.”

DeLoach continued: “Here’s my message to all the sick, perverted scum who commit these crimes and whose moral compass is nonexistent: if you think you are going to victimize our children here and get away with it, test that theory at your earliest convenience and I’m personally coming for you.”

EDITOR’S NOTE:  Why does MinistryWatch report on sex crimes? These stories are tough to read and sometimes even tougher to report, but we think they are vital to our mission to bring transparency, accountability, and credibility to the evangelical church. To read more about why and how we report these stories, read “Why MinistryWatch Reports On Sex Crimes.” You can find that story here.

Main photo: Edward Wilds III / Courtesy of Putnam County Sheriff’s Department

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Anne Stych

Anne Stych is a writer in Charlotte, North Carolina.

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