Preaching brothers sentenced for child pornography

A former youth minister and his brother who volunteered at the same church are both in federal prison after confessing to sexting of teenagers in the youth group.

By Bob Allen

The younger of two brothers convicted of sexually exploiting girls in the youth group of a Texas Baptist church has been sentenced to 15 years in prison.

jordan earlsJordan “Jordy” Earls, 26, received a sentence of 180 months in prison, the statutory minimum, in exchange for pleading guilty to a single count of producing child pornography. Prosecutors said they were prepared to add at least 10 counts if Earls rejected the plea bargain and the case had gone to trial.

Previously Earls’ older brother, Joshua Earls, 31, was sentenced to 12 years in prison after also pleading guilty to child pornography. Authorities say together the brothers, sons of a Baptist minister, used Joshua Earls’ position as youth minister at Arapaho Road Baptist Church in Garland, Texas, to entice minor girls to take pornographic pictures of themselves and share them with the brothers over the Internet.

One victim filed a civil lawsuit in February, alleging that leaders of the congregation either knew or should have known that the men posed a danger to the church’s youth.

At his sentencing hearing Feb. 18, Jordy Earls said he is sorry for his crimes and hopes the people he harmed would forgive him.

He also said he is sorry for disappointing his family. “They did not raise me in this manner, and I should have known better, and I chose to make poor decisions, and I am sorry to them.”

“Most importantly, I am sorry to God,” Earls said. “I sinned against him, and I should have known better. I was raised in a way that was supposed to seek after him, and I did not.”

According to the civil lawsuit, Joshua Earls left a Baptist church in South Carolina where his father was lead pastor to work with youth at Arapaho Road sometime in 2008. After an internship the church hired him as youth pastor. The following year Jordy joined his brother in Texas, where they shared an apartment.

While not a paid member of the staff, the lawsuit alleged, Jordy Earls helped his brother with music and volunteered with the youth group, gradually earning more responsibilities including leader of a youth band.

The brothers left the church abruptly in 2013, telling their young people they had been “called” to other assignments in South Carolina. In fact the family of one of the girls from the youth group had reported to police that Josh Earls molested their daughter at a pool party in 2012. Later police said they were also investigating Jordy Earls.

Eventually both were arrested and extradited back to Texas, where they pleaded guilty to federal charges of making child pornography.

Arapaho Road Baptist Church said in a statement about being named in a lawsuit:

“From the moment the church learned of these allegations, ARBC has been transparent and open about the situation with our staff, congregation, students, investigators and the community. This is the only way healing can truly happen. We ask the community to join us in prayer for all those involved.”