SAN DIEGO -- A seminary student accused of traveling from Ohio to San Diego with the intent of going to Tijuana to have sex with female infants waived his right to a detention hearing Thursday and agreed to be held without bail during the pendency of the case.
Joel Alexander Wright, 23, clad in an orange jumpsuit, answered "yes, your honor" when Magistrate Judge Bernard Skomal asked him if he agreed to postpone his preliminary hearing until Feb. 25, the same day as his scheduled arraignment.
Wright was arrested Jan. 29 at Lindbergh Field and charged with traveling with the intent to engage in illicit sexual conduct and aggravated sexual abuse of a child.
He faces 30 years to life in prison if convicted of the most serious charge, said Assistant U.S. Attorney Alessandra Serano.
After receiving a tip, a Homeland Security Investigations undercover agent took over an email account and started communicating with Wright. The defendant thought he was talking to a Mexico-based tour guide he met after placing an ad on Craigslist, soliciting the adoption of infants in Tijuana, according to the criminal complaint.
The reporting party said he responded to the ad and learned that Wright was studying to be priest in Columbus, Ohio.
After an email exchange last July, the tipster told authorities that Wright's initial conversation centered around traveling to Tijuana for a medical appointment, meeting a woman to marry and adopting a child. The conversation eventually shifted to Wright's alleged desire to engage in illicit sexual conduct with female infants, according to the complaint.
Last Nov. 25, when asked if he had sexual experience with infants, Wright emailed that "I have not gone all the way before but I have made it very close in the past so I do have experance," (sic), the complaint alleges.
In an email exchange with the undercover agent in December, Wright referred to a 1-year-old and a 4-year-old with whom he believed he was going to have sex, the complaint alleges.
Wright broke off communications but allegedly placed another ad on Craigslist on Dec. 28 and asked the reporting party, "Is there anything you won't do for me or help me with?"
Two weeks later, Wright wrote that he wanted to adopt a baby girl under the age of 3 and have intercourse with her, the complaint alleges.