Las Cruces youth pastor accused of child sexual exploitation
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) —
Federal authorities say a youth pastor from Las Cruces is facing child sexual exploitation and pornography charges.
They say 30-year-old Stephen Mendoza Arellano made his initial appearance Tuesday in federal court in Albuquerque.
He's being held on a criminal complaint charging him with attempted production of child pornography, enticement of a child to engage in sexual activity, and travel to meet a minor to engage in sexual conduct.
Prosecutors say the alleged crimes occurred between May and August of this year and involved a 15-year-old girl in El Paso, Texas.
They say Arellano is an ordained minister for the Apostolic Assembly Church and serves as its District of New Mexico Youth president.
According to court documents obtained by CBS4 Arellano would communicate with the teen via Snapchat. He would send her nude photos of himself and would ask her to do the same, the documents said.
The documents said Arellano would drive to El Paso to meet the teen where he would grope her and kiss her in his car.
During a youth convention in August at Hotel Encanto in Las Cruces, Arellano and the teen had sex in a hotel room, the documents said.
On Aug. 28, the victim’s parents filed a report with the police department, and that same day, Arellano reached out to the girl’s parents, the documents said.
Arellano met with the victim’s parents and confessed he was having a sexual relationship with their daughter, police said.
A warrant was issued for his arrest on Thursday and he was booked into the county jail Saturday.
Arellano remains in federal custody pending a preliminary hearing and detention hearing, which have yet to be scheduled.