Cary man charged with soliciting 'sexts' from teen
Posted July 17, 2013
Updated July 18, 2013
Cary, N.C. — Investigators say a father checking his 16-year-old daughter's cellphone and finding nude photos on it led Cary police to arrest a 28-year-old man Tuesday on a first-degree charge of sexual exploitation of a minor.
Capt. Don Hamilton, head of investigations for the Cary Police Department, said Wednesday that Josh Parker Wheeless enticed the teen to send him "sexts" – nude photos via text message – and then sent her nude photos of himself.
Wheeless, of 1212 Wicklow Drive, was in the Wake County jail Wednesday afternoon under a $250,000 bond. The charge carries a maximum of 231 months in prison.
Hamilton would not say how Wheeless knows the girl.
"They're acquaintances. The suspect knew the family, has known the family quite a while," he said. "They're not related."
Wheeless works as a door-to-door salesman, investigators said, and according to a cached version of its website, Wheeless was once a minister of youth and outreach for Landmark Freewill Baptist Church in Cary.
The website also says the married father of three girls also graduated from Southeastern Free Will Baptist College in 2011 with a degree in pastoral theology and practical ministry.
The church released a statement Thursday reiterating its commitment to keep children safe.
"We have a screening process for all volunteers and staff personnel who work in our ministry," the statement said. "We have recently learned that a former employee of this ministry has been arrested. While his employment ended prior to his arrest, we ask that you join us in praying for the victim, the law enforcement officials and all the families impacted."
Hamilton said the first-degree charge is rare, and Wheeless's case is one of few instances where the victim is actually known to the alleged perpetrator.
The more common scenario involves digital photos found and shared over the Internet where the perpetrator does not know the victim.
Police said more charges are possible as their investigation continues.