A deacon at a Woodside church was cuffed for trying to meet up with someone he believed to be a teenage boy for sex, Queens District Attorney Melinda Katz announced on Friday.
Rogelio Vega, a 50-year-old man from Maspeth, was charged with attempted use of a child in a sexual performance, attempted criminal sexual act, attempted disseminating indecent material to a minor and attempted endangering the welfare of a child on Wednesday, Jan. 20. If convicted, Vega faces up to seven years in prison.
Vega, who works as a deacon at Saint Sebastian Roman Catholic Church in Woodside, began communicating with an undercover detective, who Vega believed to be a 14-year-old boy, on the dating app Grindr, according to the charges.
The two continued to chat, even after the officer told the deacon he was a child, according to Katz.
Vega allegedly used sexually explicit language when speaking with the undercover agent for several months, the DA said. Eventually, Vega asked the officer to send him nude pictures, according to the authorities.
On three separate occasions, Vega sent photos of his genitals to the officer and made several requests to meet the person he believed to be a teen in person for oral sex, Katz said.
On Tuesday, Jan. 19, Vega again requested the two meet up for sex and, this time, the officer agreed, according to the charges.
Vega allegedly drove to the pre-arranged meeting place, flashed his car’s headlights and the undercover officer got into the car, according to the DA. The deacon was then arrested.
Vega, who has been a deacon at Saint Sebastian since May 2011, has been suspended, according to a spokesperson for the Diocese of Brooklyn.
“We are horrified by the arrest and charges against Rogelio Vega. He was ordained a deacon on May 28, 2011. There has never been any complaint against him,” the spokesperson told QNS. “The Diocese of Brooklyn is committed to a Zero Tolerance Policy, as nothing is more important than the protection of children. Rogelio Vega has been immediately suspended.”
Saint Sebastian did not respond to request for comment before press time.
Vega is scheduled to return to court on Jan. 25.