Terry Lee Thomas, 60, of Quaker City was sentenced on January 13, 2023, to 14-15 years in prison. Thomas had previously entered a guilty plea on November 29, 2022 to six counts of Pandering Sexually-Oriented Matter Involving a Minor and three counts of Pandering Obscenity Involving a Minor. Of those charges, seven were Felonies of the Second Degree and two were Felonies of the Fourth Degree. As an additional condition of his sentence, Thomas was advised of his duties to register as a Tier II Sexual Offender, requiring that he verify his place of address in person every 180 days for 25 years.
The Noble County Sheriff’s Office, in conjunction with the United States Department of Homeland Security, began an investigation into suspected child pornography distribution based upon a tip from the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children. Through the course of their investigative work, it was determined that Mr. Thomas made use of the Tor network, a dark web browser system, to obtain numerous images and video files of nude pre-pubescent children approximately 2-12 years old engaging in sexual acts or displaying their private parts. Mr. Thomas then distributed that material to private Facebook groups via its messenger app. As part of entering a guilty plea, Mr. Thomas admitted to engaging in the above-described activity.
At sentencing, Noble County Prosecutor Jordan Croucher argued in favor of consecutive prison sentences, basing the State’s argument on the significant psychological harm and emotional damage, and that the harm was greater than normal due to the tender age of the children and the knowledge that their images will likely be on the internet forever because of the continued re-distribution. Mr. Thomas argued in favor of probation.
Noble County Sheriff Jason Mackie commended the efforts of his detectives, noting the emotional difficulty in handling cases with such sensitive material. Upon the completion of his prison term, Mr. Thomas faces a mandatory period of 5 years of parole governed by the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction.