Police say Texas minister caught in Internet sex sting
BRYAN, Texas — A minister at a Dallas-area megachurch was charged with online solicitation of a minor after police said Friday he was caught in an Internet sex sting.
Undercover officers posing as a 13-year-old girl communicated with 52-year-old Joe Barron of Plano for about two weeks. The online conversations were sexual in nature, police said.
On May 6, Barron suggested meeting the girl in person. He eventually made the nearly 200-mile drive to Bryan on Thursday, where he was arrested. The Bryan-College Station Eagle reported for its Saturday editions that police surrounded the site of the suggested meeting place for two hours before Barron arrived.
Police said they found a web-cam and condoms in Barron’s car.
Barron was released from the Brazos County Jail on Friday night on $7,000 bail. Police were unsure if he had an attorney.
Barron is a minister at Prestonwood Baptist Church, one of the largest churches in the country with 26,000 members and 40 ministers. Mike Buster, executive pastor, said in a statement that the church had no record or knowledge of previous improprieties or saw any inappropriate behavior in the 18 months Barron was on the church staff.
Buster said church officials are fully cooperating with police.
“We are disturbed and saddened by the reports we have heard and we are praying for the Barron family,” he said.
Barron is a minister to married adults.
Bryan police had run six similar sting operations in the past two weeks and only one other person arrived at the meeting site and was arrested, the newspaper reported.