OSCEOLA COUNTY, Fla. -- Members of Living Waters Church were shocked to learn a volunteer who worked with children was arrested on charges he tried to lure one of the church's underage members for sex.
Investigators said 25-year-old Jonathan Kowalski sent inappropriate text messages to an 11-year-old he had contact with at the church.
The girl's mother found the messages and went straight to the pastor.
"I'm very disappointed, very appalled by it. I found it very hard to believe," said Pastor Terry Howell of Living Waters Church.
Howell said he immediately called authorities.
"Initially he wasn't cooperating with the investigation but after he did start talking with detectives he indicated that she told him she was 13 or 14," said Twis Lizasuain with Osceola County Sheriff's Office.
Reports indicate he knew the girl was younger, since he only worked with kindergarteners through sixth-graders.
Kowalski, a father himself, told the girl he was 16.
The church said a background check prior to his hiring came up clean.
"He was one of our low-level volunteers, he wasn't a teacher, wasn't one-on-one with any of the children. He was always supervised, he was always with someone," Howell said.
Undercover detectives set up the sting Tuesday that took Kowalski down.
"We took the daughter's cellphone into our possession and earlier today began texting the suspect as if they were the daughter," Lizasuain said.
Kowalski was arrested while allegedly on his way to meet who he thought was the girl. Police said he was carrying condoms at the time of his arrest.
Kowalski also volunteered at Give Kids the World for the last four years. A spokesperson said Tuesday it was strictly in group settings.
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