A Catholic priest within the Archdiocese of Los Angeles is accused of possessing a large cache of child pornography, the Ventura County District Attorney’s Office announced Thursday.
Father Rodolfo Martinez-Guevara, 38, of Long Beach, allegedly possessed more than 600 images of child sexual abuse material, including pictures and videos of minors under 12, officials said.
Martinez-Guevara was a member of the Missionaries of the Holy Spirit and associated with several churches, including Our Lady of Guadalupe in Oxnard, authorities said.
He has since been removed from the ministry by the Archdiocese and his order, a spokesperson for the Archdiocese told KTLA.
Authorities launched their investigation into Martinez-Guevara after several reports were made to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, according to the D.A’s Office.
“Investigators determined Martinez-Guevara was allegedly in direct possession of over 600 images and videos depicting child sexual abuse material – involving mostly boys,” prosecutors said in a news release.
Martinez-Guevara was arrested on Wednesday and search warrants were served at the Missionaries of the Holy Spirit in Long Beach where he lives.
The religious institution is next to St. Maria Goretti Church and its school.
“As a priest, the defendant is in a position of tremendous power, authority and trust,” said District Attorney Erik Nasarenko. “The alleged crimes deeply violate that trust and involve a disturbing number of sexual images of young boys. These are not simply images and videos … they constitute horrific exploitation of our most vulnerable.”
Investigators believe there could be more alleged victims. Anyone with information was urged to file a report with their local police department.
Martinez-Guevara was being held on $750,000 bond with an initial court appearance scheduled for Friday, Sept. 15.