TULSA, Okla. — Content Warning: The following article contains descriptions of child sexual abuse.
A federal jury found a Glenpool man guilty Tuesday for sexually exploiting a 16-year-old minor, announced U.S. Attorney Clint Johnson.
Thomas Anthony Pearce, 54, was convicted of coercion or enticement of a minor, production of child pornography, possession of child pornography in Indian Country, and distribution of marijuana.
The crimes occurred from Feb. 3, 2021, through Feb. 8, 2021. Pearce met the victim online, coerced her into sexual activity, provided her with marijuana, and took sexually explicit photographs of the teenager. He was also found to possess additional child pornography on various electronic devices, which included images and video depicting the sexual abuse of children younger than 12 years of age.
“There are two heroes in this case: an alert Jenks police officer whose action helped protect the victim from further exploitation by Thomas Pearce and the victim who came forward and testified,” said U.S. Attorney Clint Johnson. “This pedophile has been convicted thanks to the officer’s vigilance, the victim’s testimony, and the hours of work from investigators with Homeland Security Investigations and the Jenks Police Department. I am grateful for their dedicated service.”
In the early morning hours of Feb. 8, 2021, a Jenks police officer observed a suspicious white Dodge pick-up parked on a partially paved area just off a road and saw an adult male in the driver’s seat. As the officer turned around to investigate, the driver quickly drove away. The officer conducted a traffic stop and initiated contact with Pearce and a minor female in the passenger’s seat. Pearce claimed the minor was his niece but could not provide a phone number for the officer to contact the child’s parents.
During the stop, the minor victim told officers that she was high on marijuana that Pearce had given her and stated that nothing had occurred “this time” but that the defendant had zip tied her hands and took explicit pictures of her on another occasion. Pearce was taken into custody.
During a search of the vehicle at the scene, officers located marijuana, four thumb drives, a package of zip-ties, duct tape, three cell phones and other items.
The victim was later forensically interviewed. She disclosed that she and Pearce had contact on six different occasions and that Pearce’s sexual advances and abuse escalated with each encounter, to include sexually assaulting the victim, ziptying her, and taking sexually explicit photographs of her.
She stated that Pearce provided her with marijuana. He also told her to take a pill, which she refused.
On a phone found in the vehicle, investigators with Homeland Security Investigations and the Jenks Police Department discovered a file with the victim’s name on it, which contained explicit photographs depicting the sexual acts that the victim described in her interview.
In text messages between Pearce and the victim, Pearce made references to his sexual abuse of the victim, told the victim that she should take a pill that would make her feel good because “he said so,” and stated that he had had sexual encounters with other minors. When the victim texted that she did not want to meet him again, he threatened to harm her siblings.
Search warrants were also executed on Pearce’s residence in Glenpool and at two storage units in Tulsa. Officers seized a computer and numerous hard drives during the searches.
On a thumb drive seized, investigators found another file with a female’s name on it that contained sexually explicit images of a minor. The woman, now an adult, was contacted. She confirmed that she had met Pearce online while she was in high school and that Pearce had sex with her and took sexually explicit photographs. She stated that Pearce would pay her in cash, gifts, and marijuana.
Investigators also located child pornography on one of the hard drives seized. Video and image titles specifically referenced “raped teens” and other child sexual abuse.
“The Jenks Police Department was glad to be a part of this investigation from beginning to end. Our Officers and Investigators worked diligently with the U.S. Attorney’s Office and HSI to bring justice for the victims of Thomas Pearce,” said Major Melissa Brown, Patrol Division Commander for the Jenks Police Department. “We pride ourselves in our Officers’ commitment to this department and to the citizens of Jenks. There is not a prouder moment when our Officers are able to take a predator off the streets and keep our children safe. We want to thank all involved for their continuing efforts in this investigation,”
“This defendant exploited a child, violating federal statutes and destroyed the innocence of the most vulnerable members of our community,” said Christopher Miller, acting Special Agent in Charge HSI Dallas. “I am grateful for the continued vigilance and dedication of our special agents and law enforcement partners investigating this case. This perpetrator and others will be held accountable.”
Pearce was one of 33 defendants apprehended during Operation Clean Sweep. The four-month long operation focused on identifying predators who exploit children and ultimately led to the identification of 12 child victims. The operation was conducted by the U.S. Attorney’s Office and more than a dozen local, state, tribal and federal law enforcement agencies in 10 of the 11 counties in the Northern District of Oklahoma.
U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations and the Jenks Police Department conducted the investigation. Assistant U.S. Attorney Victor A.S. Régal and Richard M. Cella are prosecuting the case.
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