On Wednesday at about 10:30pm, Houston police say they were conducting an undercover operation at the Big City Adult Book Store off the Gulf Freeway. They arrested Alberto Maullon, 52. Only later did they discover Maullon was pastor at St. Paul the Apostle Catholic Church in Nassau Bay.
An undercover police officer told Eyewitness News, "A brief conversation took place which became sexual in nature, leading to the suspect exposing himself to the officer."
The undercover sergeant says an officer had come into contact with Maullon in the video arcade area of the store and that the two moved into a viewing room.
He added, "The door leading to this specific viewing area and this viewing room was open during the entire investigation and the suspect was arrested without incident."
Police wouldn't give further details but court documents indicate the priest is charged with public lewdness for "masturbation in a public place."
Leroy Evans, who lives near the church, said, "It's more troubling to me than anything else that a priest would do something like that."
Parishoner's at St. Paul's are stunned.
"He's a very good guy," said parishioner Julio Acquino-Adayde. "He's a nice guy."
Some, like Acquino-Adayde, want to hear Maullon's side of the story. They want to reserve judgment until then.
He said, "Give him the benefit of the doubt."
A spokesperson for the Archdiocese of Galveson-Houston said, "Father Maullon has expressed deep sorrow for any pain or hurt caused by this event and has requested and been granted a leave of absence from his ministerial duties."
Archdiocese Statement Cardinal Daniel Dinardo added, "I ask you to join me in praying for St. Paul Parish and for Father Maullon as he addresses these very personal challenges with his priesthood. May the healing power of God be with all those impacted by this news."