Friday, April 20, 2018
Public safety

Plant City choir founder accused of having sex with child

PLANT CITY — A 25-year-old Plant City man is accused of having sex with a child after posing as a woman named Amanda in an online chat, authorities say.

Joseph Gerald Mendolia was arrested Tuesday morning on three counts of lewd and lascivious battery.

State investigators believe he traveled to St. Petersburg to meet the child in March.

Mendolia is founder of the Plant City Community Choir, a nonprofit performance choir he started in 2008. It meets at the First Presbyterian Church of Plant City, according to its website.

On its website and Facebook page, the choir announced Tuesday night its board of directors had held an emergency meeting. "The vote of the Board was unanimous and for the sake of the choir, Joseph Mendolia has been removed as the Executive and Artistic Director of the choir effective immediately," its Facebook page said.

Mendolia also used to work with the University of South Florida's music program, according to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement. A USF spokeswoman said he was employed at the School of Music from August 2010 to August 2012 as an office assistant, but she did not have details of his duties there.

On his Facebook page, Mendolia wrote that he had worked at the Walt Disney World resort from 2006 to 2009.

He was booked into the Pinellas County Jail. Records show he was being held there Tuesday night on $20,000 bail for each of the felony charges.

Investigators are looking to talk to anyone else who may have information about Mendolia. They can call FDLE Special Agent Al Danna at (813) 878-7384 or St. Petersburg police Detective Kenny Sharp at (727) 893-4297.

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