CLEVELAND (AP) – A former seminarian arrested for allegedly seeking to have sex with infants and young girls in Mexico was carrying $2,000 in cash along with baby clothes and a bottle in his luggage, a Department of Immigration and Customs Enforcement spokeswoman said Sunday.
Joel Wright, who was arrested Friday in San Diego, had previously traveled to Tijuana in an unsuccessful attempt to adopt a child, authorities said.
According to the criminal complaint, the former student at Pontifical College Josephinum in Columbus tried in 2014 to adopt a child in Mexico and more recently spelled out in explicit online messages what he hoped to do with an infant and a 4-year-old girl.
Asked in an email if he'd previously had sex with infants, Wright allegedly responded: "I have not gone all the way before, but I have made it very close in the past so I do have [experience]."
Wright, 23, has been charged with travel with intent to engage in illicit sexual conduct and aggravated sexual abuse of a child. He is scheduled to appear in court in Monday.
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Court records do not indicate that Wright has an attorney. His mother, Teresa Wright Poquette, told the Associated Press on Sunday that she didn't believe the allegations.
Poquette, who lives in Vermont where Wright grew up, said she couldn't say anything more.
Rev. John Allen, vice president for advancement at Pontifical College Josephinum in Ohio, said Wright began attending the school last fall and that he'd undergone a battery of psychological tests, interviews and a background check before being accepted. Wright lost his status at the seminary when he left the campus without authorization.
"We're shocked and saddened by the heinous nature of the allegations," Allen told the AP.