A former student was arrested last week on charges of possession of child pornography and sexual contact with a child.
Benjamin Russell Roberts, 24, studied child and family services while he was a student until the fall of 2015. He also worked with children at Wylie Baptist Church daycare, Southern Hills Church of Christ daycare and Beltway Park Church Youth Program.
Possession of child pornography is a third-degree felony punishable by two to 10 years in prison and up to a $10,000 fine, and indecency with a child is a second-degree felony punishable by up to 20 years in prison.
An investigation into the downloading of child pornography began on Feb. 27, and on March 28, the Cyber Crimes Unit of the Abilene Police Department identified Roberts as the person who had been downloading the material from his residence, according to a police report.
Sergeant Lynn Beard said upon investigation, detectives found multiple devices as well as a pair of children’s underwear. In an interview with APD, Roberts admitted to touching a child under the age of 12, according to a police report.
Beard said in a press conference that Roberts did not have any prior criminal charges. He encouraged parents to talk to their children if they have had any contact with Roberts.
“Obviously we have concerns about the children that have been attending these locations and any other place that Mr. Roberts has worked,” Beard said in a press conference. “We are working now to determine the timeline of when he worked at each facility. We are also trying to determine any other locations that he may of worked at. In cases like this, there is an extremely high likelihood that there are other victims we don’t know about now.”
Since the arrest all three institutions have commented on Roberts’ employment. Beltway Park’s statement on their website reads: “To do all we can to ensure the safety and well-being of our children on a daily basis, all employees must go through a criminal background check. This was done and returned to us clear. We also maintain a strict policy in all areas of youth and children’s ministry, including our after-school program, that no adult may be alone with a student or child at any time. We work to strictly enforce this policy at all times.”
Eight victims have been identified since the arrest, seven of which were at Wylie Baptist.
Roberts remains in the Taylor County Jail, and his bond is set at $150,000 for each charge.