North Jefferson News, Gardendale, AL

January 2, 2013

Church worship leader arrested for soliciting sex online from a child

By Melanie Patterson
North Jefferson News

GARDENDALE — A church worship leader was arrested last week on charges of electronic solicitation of a child and traveling to meet a child for an unlawful sex act.

Joel Kent Hodges, 31, of Fultondale, was arrested Thursday at 2:45 p.m. in Gardendale, according to Police Chief Mike Walker.

He could release no further details about the investigation.

Hodges was reportedly the contemporary worship leader at Gardendale-Mt. Vernon United Methodist Church.

Katherine Bellinger, a spokeswoman for Gardendale-Mt. Vernon, said the church would release no comments about the incident.

The church has weekly contemporary as well as traditional church services. Hodges had been worship leader of the contemporary service for three or four months, according a church member who asked to not be named.

The church member said a pastor announced during all three church services on Sunday that Hodges had been terminated for not following the guidelines of the church, but did not mention Hodges’ arrest.

Hodges was released from the Jefferson County Jail Monday on a $90,000 bond, according to Chief Deputy Randy Christian.