HARRISBURG — Attorney General Josh Shapiro today announced felony charges against a New Jersey Sheriff’s deputy for allegedly having unlawful sexual contact with a 17-year-old girl in the Lehigh Valley, posting a video of the incident online, and then seeking additional sexual contact from an undercover law enforcement agent who was posing as a 14-year-old girl.
Joshua Padilla, 33, of the unit block of Berkeley Place, Eatontown, NJ, was arrested Friday by detectives with the Monmouth County, NJ Prosecutor’s Office, assisted by agents with the Pennsylvania Attorney General’s Office and the Pennsylvania State Police.
Padilla is charged with unlawful contact with a minor, obscene materials and other sexual performances, sexual abuse of children – manufacturing, disseminating and possessing child pornography, and related charges. These charges are first-, second- and third-degree felonies.
“Our agents work tirelessly to investigate child sexual predators and get them off the streets of Pennsylvania,” Attorney General Shapiro said today. “We have zero tolerance in my office for child predators – wherever we find them. It is particularly upsetting and egregious when the accused predator is a member of law enforcement, sworn to protect citizens and uphold the law.”
Padilla is employed as a Sheriff’s Deputy in Middlesex County, New Jersey.
Attorney General Shapiro urged anyone with additional information for law enforcement about this case or about Padilla to contact his Child Predator Section hotline at 1-800-385-1044.
Last month, agents with the Attorney General’s Child Predator Section received a tip from the Pennsylvania State Police that an adult man – later identified as Padilla – had unlawful sexual contact with a 17-year-old girl in Northampton County, sometime in April or May, 2018. The victim was first contacted over the Internet by Padilla on a website called adultfriendfinder.com.
The victim was underage during the sexual encounter, and Padilla was aware of her age. Padilla recorded the encounter with his cell phone, and uploaded the video depicting sex acts onto the same website, where it was viewed and shared by other users of the site.
In the course of their investigation, agents with the Attorney General’s Child Predator Section had contact with the defendant last month, via social media and text messaging. An undercover agent told Padilla that he was communicating with a 14-year-old child. The defendant said he wanted to meet with the purported child, used sexually explicit language, sent the agent two pictures of his genitals, and asked for photos of the purported 14-year-old girl.
Padilla’s text messages indicated he would perform sex acts on her, and he asked for more photos of his purported 14-year-old victim while she was in school.
Padilla is currently in police custody in New Jersey, awaiting extradition to Northampton County, Pennsylvania – where the charges were filed on Friday.
“I want to thank the Prosecutor’s Office in Monmouth County, New Jersey for their assistance with this case, along with the Pennsylvania State Police,” Attorney General Shapiro said. “Law enforcement collaboration makes our communities safer.”
“Our office assists and cooperates with other law enforcement agencies, whether they are inside this State or anywhere within the Country. It is the result of these strong partnerships that Joshua Padilla is being returned to Pennsylvania to face prosecution for his crimes,” said Monmouth County Prosecutor Christopher J. Gramiccioni.