Florida sheriff sends warning to ‘sick, perverted, scum’ after pastor busted using church Wi-Fi for child porn

A Florida youth pastor and elementary school teacher has been arrested and charged with possession of child pornography, some of which police say he downloaded at church.

A Florida man who worked as a youth pastor and public school teacher was arrested after he allegedly downloaded child pornography and used his church’s Wi-Fi.

Edward Wilds III, 44, was busted in Palatka, Florida, this week after police said he downloaded the illicit material at Palatka Baptist Temple after a service, the Putnam County Sheriff’s Office said in a Facebook post.

Police were allegedly alerted to the illegal activity through a cyber-tip from a social media site.

“In total 54,000 images were discovered on accounts and devices associated with Wilds. The majority of the images were pornographic,” police said. 

“Wilds told detectives he had been banned by the company of one social media site several times. Detectives discovered messaging conversations where Wilds was asked by another user for images of children between the ages of 14-16 years old. He sent 42 images.”

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Edward Wilds, 44, has been charged with possession of child pornography and using a two-way communication device to facilitate a felony.

Edward Wilds, 44, has been charged with possession of child pornography and using a two-way communication device to facilitate a felony. (Putnam County Sheriff’s Office)

Detectives met with Wilds in March and took control of his electronic devices for a forensic download. Wilds was suspended and removed from the classroom where he taught sixth grade at Middleton-Burney Elementary School.

Police said during that forensic download they found an image of “a male child exposing his genitals to the camera.”

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Middleton-Burney Elementary School in Crescent City, Florida

Middleton-Burney Elementary School in Crescent City, Florida (Google Earth)

On April 12, a probable cause affidavit was submitted to the state’s attorney’s office and an arrest warrant for Wilds was issued.

“This is a clearcut case of child sexual exploitation and I’m deeply troubled by the commission of such heinous crime in our hometown,” Putnam County Sheriff H.D. ‘Gator’ DeLoach said in the press release. “The exploitation and abuse of children is a despicable act that has no place in our society. Wilds’ behavior is disgusting, vile and repugnant and I will not tolerate it in our county.”

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Palatka Baptist Temple in Palatka, Florida

Palatka Baptist Temple in Palatka, Florida (Google Earth)

“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 also issued a message to anyone in Florida who sexually targets children.

“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,” DeLoach said.

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Palatka Baptist Temple did not immediately respond to a request for comment from Fox News Digital.

“At this time there is no indication that any of these allegations involve students of the Putnam County School District,” Rick Surrency, superintendent of Putnam County schools, said at a Friday press conference

“All parents and students were notified of his arrest and counselors are available to all students and staff. This behavior should never occur but especially by someone who serves in an educational setting.”

Wilds faces charges of possession of child pornography and using a two-way communication device to facilitate a felony.

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