Methodist University religion prof arrested by Cary police on internet child-porn charges

Steven Phillip Brey
Steven Phillip Brey CCBI

Cary police arrested a religion professor at Methodist University in Fayetteville on Wednesday on 18 counts of sexual exploitation of children involving video files sent on the internet.

Associate Professor Steven Phillip Brey, 53, who lives in Fayetteville, was named in arrest warrants saying he sent videos involving boys and girls, who appeared to range in age from about 6 years old to preteen, to Detective Kevin West in May 2015.

Records show that Brey was arrested on the campus Wednesday afternoon.

The charges in arrest warrants obtained earlier Wednesday are 18 counts of second-degree sexual exploitation of a minor. That charge involves copying or distributing pornography involving children.

During investigations, local, state and federal authorities pose online as people interested in child pornography and visit websites where videos or still pictures are available from other people online.

West is one of several detectives in the Triangle who have expertise in uncovering child pornography traffic and tracking down its source. Several of them work with the FBI’s Raleigh-area task force on child exploitation.

According to Brey’s page on the Methodist University’s website, he holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Ohio Wesleyan, Yale and Emory universities, and earned his Ph.D. at Notre Dame University.

Methodist says on the site that Brey specializes in “the early Church, and his areas of academic interest include Biblical studies and the history of Christianity.”

Methodist University declined to comment on Brey’s employment status at the university.

“Methodist University does not comment on personnel or employee legal matters and cannot comment on any investigation that may involve one of its employees,” the university said in a statement.

“The safety and welfare of members of the University community are our highest priorities. We are cooperating with legal authorities as appropriate.”

Police had recently obtained a search warrant for Brey’s computers.

Brey was held in lieu of $1 million bail pending a first court appearance.

His status with the university was unclear Thursday morning.

Ron Gallagher: 919-829-4572, @RPGKT