Bond for Jared Don McCabe was set at $50,000.
Arrest warrants claim he had explicit images of girls who appear to be as young as 3-years-old.
"You're charged with 20 different counts of third-degree sexual exploitation of a minor," the judge informed McCabe at Thursday's bond hearing.
McCabe kept his head down and held onto his Bible as the judge read the charges filed against him.
McCabe rushed out of the courtroom without speaking to reporters, but his lawyer defended his character.
"Jerrod is a good person, comes from a great family. He's committed to service, committed to community work," said attorney Patrick Roberts.
Some of that community work was at the Raleigh Chinese Christian Church in Cary, where the website listed him as youth director. Court documents also show he has travelled to Peru twice to help impoverished people.
Married for two and a half years, Roberts said McCabe has the support of his family.
"He was extremely remorseful. He's tired. This is a very stressful experience for him, for his family as well. He was in tears," said Roberts.
Documents show McCabe has been cooperating with the investigation. He has resigned from his position from the Raleigh Chinese Christian Church and his picture was pulled off the website Thursday morning.