Baltimore County Police said Monday that a Cockeysville man who leads a youth group at the Clynmalira United Methodist Church in Phoenix was arrested Friday and charged with possession and distribution of child pornography.
Robert David Wright, 35, of the 10000 block of Hillgreen Circle in Cockeysville, was found to have "downloaded to his home computer thousands of pornographic images of female babies, toddlers, and prepubescent girls, including images of children being raped," Baltimore County Police said.
The investigation, which was conducted by the county police department's Crimes Against Children Unit, showed that Wright shared the images with other online users, police said.
In a release posted on their website, county police said the investigation is ongoing and materials seized from his home are being reviewed, but there is currently no evidence any of the children in the photos were church members or sexually abused by Wright himself.
Rev. John Dailey, pastor of Clynmalira, said in a statement released Monday evening that Wright is a member of the church and has been a volunteer leader of a youth group. Dailey said church leaders take the allegations "very seriously."
"Providing a safe environment for the children and youth of the church is of vital importance to us," he said."
According to Dailey, the church has used the United Methodist Church's statewide "Safe Sanctuary" policy to protect young people at the church.
"We are diligent in (the policy's) implementation and, because of this, feel confident that Robert Wright was never alone with any of the youth," Dailey said in the statement.
Dailey said they will keep Wright, his family, and the church's youth in their prayers, and will fully cooperate with the investigation.
Police said all images recovered are forwarded to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, which "serves as the clearinghouse nationally for information on missing and exploited children" and attempts to identify child pornography victims.
No attorney for Wright is listed in online court records.
Wright is being held at the Baltimore County Detention Center on $150,000 bond, police said. ___