Rodolfo Martinez-Guevara, 38, was arrested Sept. 13 on suspicion of possessing child pornography. Photo courtesy of the Ventura County Sheriff's Department.

A Catholic priest who authorities allege possessed hundreds of images depicting the sexual abuse of children has been removed from ministry following his arrest earlier this week, according to the order of priests he was associated with.

Rodolfo Martinez-Guevara, 38, arrived at the Missionaries of Holy Spirit in Long Beach during the summer of 2022. As a newly ordained priest, he never worked directly with children and his duties mainly consisted of helping the order with Mass and classes for missionaries in training, according to Pedro Arteaga, provincial superior for the the order.

This week, Martinez-Guevara’s career as a priest abruptly came to an end when he was taken into custody. He’s since been charged with one count of being in possession or control of child pornography, along with the special allegation of aggravated possession of child pornography due to allegedly having more than 600 such images, according to court records.

“I would like to say how deeply we are sorry about this whole thing,” Arteaga said in an interview Friday. “It does not represent our congregation and our values. We’ve been trained to the contrary, to make sure this doesn’t happen.”

Martinez-Guevara made his first court appearance via Zoom Friday morning where he was represented by a public defender, but his arraignment was continued to Sept. 26, according to court records. He has yet to enter a plea and remains jailed in lieu of $750,000 bail.

The Ventura County Child Exploitation & Human Trafficking Task Force began investigating Martinez-Guevara following several reports to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children. Eventually, authorities said, investigators determined that Martinez-Guevara was allegedly in direct possession of over 600 images and videos depicting children being sexually abused, mostly boys under the age of 12.

After obtaining a warrant for Martinez-Guevara’s arrest, authorities took him into custody in Long Beach.

Martinez-Guevara previously served at a number of other churches, most recently Our Lady of Guadalupe in Oxnard from 2021 to 2022 before being assigned to serve in Long Beach.

In a statement announcing Martinez-Guevara had been relieved of his priestly duties, Arteaga denounced the alleged crime, saying his order was “committed to creating a safe environment for children and fostering healing for those who have experienced abuse.”

“The Province takes all accusations of sexual misconduct very seriously,” Arteaga said. “We do not condone any form of abusive behavior.”

Investigators, meanwhile, believe there could be more victims, according to the Ventura County District Attorney’s Office.

Prosecutors urged anyone with more information to contact their local police department.

Arteaga also said the Missionaries of the Holy Spirit will conduct their own internal investigation, which will include working with an independent review board.