GREENWOOD — Greenwood police arrested a former employee of Hopebridge Autism Therapy Center on preliminary charges of child molesting and possessing child pornography.
Detectives arrested the 30-year-old suspect on Wednesday, according to Greenwood Assistant Police Chief Matthew Fillenwarth. Court documents show that the suspect identifies as a trans male.
Some of the alleged incidents occurred at the Hopebridge Autism Therapy Center, 21 South Park Boulevard, Greenwood, where the man was working, Fillenwarth said.
The Johnson County Prosecutor's Office has not yet filed charges. WRTV does not identify suspects who have not been officially charged.
According to a preliminary probable cause affidavit, the suspect went to the Greenwood Police Department on April 10 and confessed to molesting three children.
The man told police he had been employed at the Hopebridge Autism Therapy Center for about eight months. He took the job because "it was a 'victim pool'" and because "he felt he could really help children with autism grow," according to the affidavit.
He told police he fondled two young girls while he was working at the autism center. The suspect told police he fondled another 1-year-old girl in 2017 while he was babysitting at a Greenwood apartment.
Police say they also found a photo of the 1-year-old victim nude in a bathtub on the suspect's phone.
The man said he was confessing after seeking advice from a spiritual advisor. He was seeking to rid himself of the "shadows" and "snakes" inside of him, according to the affidavit.
The man was held without bond Thursday in the Johnson County Jail, records show.
In an emailed statement, a spokesperson for Hopebridge said they are working with the Greenwood Police Department on this active investigation of their former employee.
"The investigation is not focused on any of our other employees," Hopebridge said in its statement. "The safety and well-being of our patients, visitors and staff has always been our main priority. We will continue to cooperate fully with the police."
Hopebridge declined to provide details citing confidentiality concerns.
Contact WRTV reporter Vic Ryckaert at email@example.com or on Twitter: @vicryc.