Joseph Gerald Mendolia, 25 of Plant City, was arrested and charged with 3 counts of lewd and lascivious battery on Tuesday, July 16, after allegedly engaging in sexual activity with a minor in March.
Plant City, Florida - Joseph Mendolia is a former camp counselor with the University of South Florida music program and up until Tuesday evening, the 25-year-old was the Director of the Plant City Community Choir.
That's until word started to spread that Mendolia was arrested and accused of having sex with a minor.
The executive board of the choir held an emergency meeting at 6:30 p.m. on Tuesday, where they said they're shocked by the allegations, and voted unanimously to remove Mendolia from his position to protect the choir.
Photos: Mugshot, Facebook photos of Mendolia
Joyce Nestor is a choir member who she serves on the executive board, and she said she is shocked at the news.
"We're heartbroken all the way around. We haven't even absorbed what the allegations are. It came as a shock to us today," Nestor said.
Board members said Mendolia created the choir back in 2008. It currently has 30 to 35 members.
At the meeting, Tuesday evening many of them were just learning that their director is locked up.
"I mean we're close to Joe; we're close to Joe's family. He is a member of this community and in small choirs like ours, we're really a family."
Agents from the Florida Department of Law Enforcement and St. Petersburg Police arrested Mendolia on three counts of Lewd and Lascivious battery- saying back in March, he traveled to St. Petersburg and engaged in sexual activity with a 15-year-old boy after pretending to be a female, by the name of "Amanda," on a web chat.
There was no answer on Mendolia's door at his Plant City apartment when we knocked, however neighbors said he just recently moved in, along with two Cocker Spaniel dogs and talked about being a substitute teacher.
There's no confirmation of that at this point but on Mendolia's Facebook page he does write about " filling in at Strawberry Crest High School for a few months."
Investigators do believe there could be other victims out there and so their investigation continues.
Meanwhile the choir members he once led are taking the lead.
"And all association with him has been terminated," Nestor read from a prepared statement on a piece of paper.
Tuesday evening Mendolia remained in jail in lieu of $60,000 bond.
Tammie Fields, 10 News