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Saturday, August 18, 2007                                                                                       View Comments

Pastor caught in Internet sex sting

-- An Arlington pastor was arrested on Thursday afternoon during a sex sting operation where a Denton police detective posed as a 15-year-old girl arranging to meet the man for sex.

Leroy Cruz faces charges of soliciting a minor and sending explicit images to a minor over the internet.

According to reports, Cruz first contacted the 'teenager' at roughly 11:30 a.m. Thursday morning. He arranged to meet who he thought was a 15-year-old girl at South Lakes Park in Denton. According to the detective, during an online chat, Cruz allegedly offered the 'teenager' $50 for oral sex and turned on a webcam to expose himself.

Jim Bryan of the Denton Police Department explained, "The pastor came here to South Lakes Park yesterday afternoon at 2 p.m. hoping to meet a 15-year-old girl here for sex. Instead, he was actually met by several Denton police officers who took him into custody."

The 50-year-old was formerly the pastor at Grace Fellowship Church in Arlington. The church moved out of its building about two months ago.

"As he was approaching to the meet location, one of the investigators got out and said, 'Come here a minute.' As soon as he figured out it was the police, he ducked his head and knew he'd been caught," Bryan said.

According to the detective, the online chat lasted about one hour. Authorities had not had contact with Cruz before this time.

"He has stated to the investigators that he has never done this before. While he has had urges to do so, he has never set up a meet or had this kind of conversation," Bryan said.

However, on the arrest warrant affadavit, during the online chat, Cruz used explicit language talking about sex acts with another high school girl.

Cruz remains in the Denton County Jail on a $20,000 bond.

In the 20 months of this on-going sting, police in Denton have arrested 41 men.