LANCASTER COUNTY, Pa. — The pastor at a Lancaster County church is facing multiple charges after police say he sent nude images of himself to an underage girl and later to an undercover police officer who had taken over the girl's phone, still believing he was communicating with the 17-year-old victim, according to Lancaster City Police.
Anthony R. Morales, 33, the lead pastor at Miracle Center Fellowship Church in Mount Joy, also allegedly attempted to meet the undercover officer for sex, still believing he was communicating with the underage girl, police claim.
Morales, of Warwick Township, is charged with two counts of unlawful contact with a minor, sexual abuse of children/child pornography, two counts of disseminating explicit sexual materials to a minor, corruption of minors, and criminal use of a communication facility, according to the criminal complaint affidavit.
Police say they began investigating when the girl came forward to authorities. The girl claimed Morales had communicated with her through text messages and social media for about two weeks in May. He allegedly sent the girl nude images of himself and later discussed meeting her for a sexual encounter.
Morales was aware that the girl was underage, police say.
The undercover officer took control of the girl's phone on June 14 and continued to communicate with Morales while posing as the victim, according to the complaint. Morales continued to send naked pictures of himself to the officer, still believing he was communicating with the victim, police claim.
He also allegedly requested nude images of the victim, according to the complaint.
On June 15, police monitored a phone conversation between the victim and Morales in which he allegedly discussed meeting her for a sexual encounter, police claim in the complaint.
During the conversation, Morales allegedly expressed concern about getting the girl pregnant, noting that "condoms break," according to police.
Morales and the girl agreed to meet Tuesday afternoon at a business in Centerville, where they would go to a different location to have sex, according to police. During the phone conversation monitored by police, the victim expressly stated that she was 17 years old, police claim in the complaint.
After the phone conversation ended, the undercover officer took control of the victim's phone and resumed communicating with Morales via text. Prior to agreeing to the arranged meeting, Morales acknowledged that the victim was under the age of 18, police claim.
Police at the Centerville business observed Morales arriving in a silver Ford Explorer at about 3:40 p.m. on Tuesday, police say. He allegedly drove around the parking lot several times before parking his vehicle outside another nearby business, where officers made contact with him and placed him under arrest, according to police.
Morales was released from Lancaster County Prison after posting bail, according to court records.
A preliminary hearing before Judge Bruce Roth has been scheduled for June 22.