A former employee at the world headquarters for the Seventh-day Adventist Church in Montgomery County was sentenced to 150 years in prison in Howard County Circuit Court this week for sexually abusing three girls between the ages of 5 and 8.
Joseph Edgar Davis, 40, formerly of the 9400 block of Vollmerhausen Drive in Columbia, also was found guilty of child pornography after lewd images of the girls were found on Davis' work computer at the General Conference of the Seventh-day Aventist Church located in Silver Spring, according to State's Attorney spokesman Wayne Kirwan.
According to the church, Davis, who worked in the church's audio-visual department, was fired on March 5, 2012.
"The General Conference has a zero-tolerance practice as it relates to accessing pornographic websites on computers or other electronic devices," the church said in a statement.
"The Seventh-day Adventist Church views the care and protection of children as a value of utmost importance, and will cooperate with authorities as they investigate any activities that may have been illegal in nature."
Davis, who is listed as a resident of Burtonsville, was sentenced on July 9 by Howard County Circuit Court Judge Richard Bernhardt after pleading guilty in April to three counts of sexual abuse of a minor, one count of second-degree sex offense and nine counts of third-degree sex offense.
According to Kirwan, the case arose from a joint investigation by Howard County Police, Montgomery County Police, the federal government and members of the Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force.
On Feb. 29, 2012, the IT department at the General Conference of the Seventh-Day Adventist Church, located in the 12000 block of Old Columbia Pike, discovered abnormally large bandwidth usage coming from Davis' computer, according to the statement of facts in the case.
A search of Davis' work computer revealed pornographic images from an external hard drive, which led to an intial investigation by Montgomery police, according to the statement of facts. A seizure of the hard drive revealed a total of 80 pornographic images of three young girls were uploaded to the drive between May of 2010 and April of 2011.
According to the statement of facts, the images were taken at Davis' residence in Columbia.
The statement of facts say the images were taken while the children were left in the care of Davis.
In addition to the Howard County case, Davis has also pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court to two counts of production of child pornography and one count of possession of child pornography. He will be sentenced in that case on Sept. 5 in U.S. District Court in Baltimore.
Davis is also facing two charges of sex abuse of a minor and six charges of sexual assault in Montgomery County Circuit Court, according to online court records. He is scheduled for a preliminary hearing in July 18, with a trial scheduled for Aug. 19.