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Estrada to attend film screening locally

by SAM KUSIC on April 09, 2013 11:00 AM

Actor Erik Estrada will visit the area on Wednesday to introduce a new film calling attention to the dangers children face from pedophiles lurking on the Internet.

Called “Finding Faith,” the film, in which Estrada has a part, will be screened at Hilltop Baptist Church along Route 286 in White Township. Estrada and other people involved in the film’s production will be on hand.

The film is being brought to the area courtesy of the organization that wrote and produced it, the nonprofit Safe Surfin’ Foundation, based in Bedford County, Va. The organization seeks to call attention to crimes against children perpetuated over the Internet.

It opened the film in January, and has since taken it on a national tour, screening it mostly at Baptist churches. The film is technically in post-production, and a theatrical release is scheduled for later this summer or early this fall.

Partly a public service announcement, partly a Christian film, the plot in “Finding Faith” is a fictionalized mash-up of three cases involving children and the pedophiles they’ve encountered over the Internet.

In the story, 14-year-old Faith Garrett strikes up an online friendship with a similarly aged boy. However, the boy is not who he says he is. And when Faith is abducted, beliefs are questioned.

Estrada, who is best know for his role as Francis “Ponch” Poncherello on the late ’70s show “ChiPs,” plays the sheriff who works to bring Faith home.

Estrada is one of the celebrity spokesmen for the Safe Surfin’ Foundation, which was started by the Bedford County Sheriff’s Office more than 10 years ago.

Sheriff Mike Brown said the foundation was started on the recognition that law enforcement would never be able to arrest all of the people perpetuating online crimes against children. So the next best thing, he said, was to work on educating people.

“We really need to educate the kids and the parents,” Brown said.

His office runs a regional Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force, and was one of the first in the country to launch one through federal funding.

“Finding Faith” was put together in conjunction with the late Rev. Jerry Falwell’s Liberty University and roughly 400 volunteers.

The local screening is free, but as seating is limited, tickets — available at the church office — are required for admission. The Wednesday screening begins at 6:30 p.m.

For more information, call the church at (724) 349-9180 or (724) 910-0948.

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