Southwest Wake News

Cary police: Former youth pastor exchanged porn photos with girl he knew

The day that police charged Josh Parker Wheeless with sexual exploitation of a 16-year-old, they got a search warrant to seize his computers, a phone and a camera because of nude pictures they said they found on the phone of a girl he knew from a church where he was a youth minister and from driving her school bus.

The girl’s father went to police with photos he found on her phone after taking it away as a disciplinary step. Wheeless, of 1212 Wicklow Court, was arrested and charged July 16 with one count of first-degree sexual exploitation of a minor. He is being held in the Wake County Detention Center in lieu of $250,000 bail for a court appearance Aug. 7.

The girl’s family knew Wheeless, 28, from his work at Landmark Church, Detective B.D. Gasperson told a magistrate in applying for the warrant.

“It was also discovered that (the girl) first interacted with Josh because he was driving the bus that she rode back and forth to her Christian school,” Gasperson wrote. “It was during these trips they developed a friendship.”

The detective said the girl told him “there were probably well over 100 images sent back and forth,” though “a lot of images and text messages” probably were deleted because of limited memory on the girl’s phone.

In addition to pornographic photos of Wheeless, Gasperson said, he was told that Wheeless had received photos the girl took of herself, and that led to the request for a warrant to examine the contents of his desktop computer, laptop, an e-reader, a flash drive and a digital camera.