The Black Collar Crime Series relies on public news stories and publicly available information for its content. If any incorrect information is found, please contact Bruce Gerencser. Nothing in this post should be construed as an accusation of guilt. Those accused of crimes are innocent until proven guilty.
in 2017, Stephen Mendoza Arellano, youth pastor at Apostolic Assembly Church in Las Cruces, New Mexico was charged 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.”
An ordained minister from Las Cruces is facing federal child exploitation and pornography charges, federal prosecutors announced Tuesday.
Stephen Mendoza Arellano, 30, an ordained minister for the Apostolic Assembly Church who serves as the youth president for the church’s New Mexico division, has been charged 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, according to federal prosecutors.
According to a criminal complaint filed Oct. 5, Arellano began communicating with a 15-year-old girl in a sexually explicit manner beginning in May. It also alleges that he traveled from Las Cruces to El Paso for the purpose of engaging in sexual intercourse with the girl, who was a member of the Apostolic Assembly Church.
The complaint alleges that Arellano and the girl used Snapchat to communicate on a daily basis, and that at some point, their communications became sexually explicit. Arellano also allegedly sent nude photos of himself to the girl via cellphone message and requested nude photos of her between May and August.
The complaint also alleges that Arellano engaged in sexual activity with the girl in July and August, including at a youth convention in Las Cruces that was held at Hotel Encanto, where he allegedly took a nude photo of the girl.
The investigation allegedly revealed that Arellano was aware of the girl’s age because he assisted in making a video for her Sweet 16 birthday party.
If convicted on the attempted production of child pornography charge, Arellano faces a mandatory minimum penalty of 15 years and a maximum of 30 years in federal prison.
If convicted on the enticement charge, he faces a mandatory minimum penalty of 10 years and a maximum of life in federal prison. If convicted on the traveling to engage in illicit sexual conduct charge, Arellano faces a maximum of 30 years in federal prison.
An April 10, 2018 story by KRWG reports that Arellano has pleaded guilty to “traveling in interstate commerce for the purpose of engaging in sexual contact with a minor.”
in 2019, Arellano was sentenced to six years in prison for traveling in interstate commerce for the purpose of engaging in sex with a minor.
Stephen Mendoza Arellano, 31, a youth minister from Las Cruces, was sentenced Thursday in federal court after being convicted of traveling across state lines intending to have sex with a minor.
Arrellano was sentenced to 71 months in prison, followed by 15 years of supervised release. He pleaded guilty April 9, 2018 to traveling in interstate commerce for the purpose of engaging in sex with a minor, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.
In doing so, he admitted that in the early summer of 2017, he began to pursue a romantic relationship with a 15-year-old victim, whom he knew through the Apostolic Assembly Church and their families’ relationship.
He also admitted that in June 2017, he traveled from Las Cruces to El Paso with the intent to engage in illicit sexual contact with the victim.
According to court records, at the time he committed the offense, Arellano was an ordained minister of the Apostolic Assembly Church and was serving as the church’s District of New Mexico youth president. He was also a national ordained minister for the Apostolic Assembly Church.
Bruce Gerencser, 66, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 45 years. He and his wife have six grown children and thirteen grandchildren. Bruce pastored Evangelical churches for twenty-five years in Ohio, Texas, and Michigan. Bruce left the ministry in 2005, and in 2008 he left Christianity. Bruce is now a humanist and an atheist.
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