By: Debbie Campbell
CLEVELAND, Ohio — Thomas Close, 39, was sentenced to 30 years in federal prison after pleading guilty in September 2019 to two counts of sexually exploiting children and receiving and distributing child pornography.
Close, a former Boy Scouts of America worker was sentenced January 15 for secretly filming underage boys while they were changing in multiple locations.
Between 2011 and 2018 Close recorded children as they changed to go swimming or take showers. The incidents went on at various locations, including a YMCA in Sandusky, the Mohican Wilderness camp, the Firelands Scout Reservation near Oberlin, the Willard Conservation League, the Ashland County West Holmes Career Center, and even in his own home where he had children over to swim.
In addition to the 30 years in prison, U.S. District Judge Dan Polster ordered Close to pay $949 in restitution and placed Close on a lifetime of supervised release.
The investigation led to Close after videos were found on the internet showing young boys changing before or after swimming at the YMCA in Sandusky. After reaching out to the YMCA it was found that the pool would occasionally be rented to the Boy Scouts.
During a meeting with the Boy Scouts, agents became aware of a report filed against Close, that stated he had frequent and unnecessary contact with the boys.
During an interview with Close he admitted to receiving and distributing child pornography online. He also admitted to downloading and having child pornography in his possession.
He recorded the boys by leaving a watch with filming capabilities in the boys changing areas.
When searching Close’s devices, agents found at least 110,000 files including images and video files of child pornography. Approximately 60,000 of the files appeared to be unique.
Close had created over 1,900 images of child pornography. According to Close’s plea deal, Agents found 11 videos Close shot that made their way on the internet.
Prosecutors said 143 victims have been identified so far with the youngest victim as young as 7-years-old.
Debbie can be reached at email@example.com
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Source: The Village Reporter