LOUISA COUNTY, Va. (WRIC) — A man pleaded guilty to a number of charges in relation to sex crimes involving a minor younger than 14 years of age in a Louisa County court earlier this week.
On Wednesday, Jan. 25, 50-year-old Daniel R. Thomas of Portland, Ore., pleaded guilty to the following charges in Louisa County Circuit Court:
- One count of indecent liberties with a minor less than 14 years of age
- Three counts of production of child pornography
- Two counts of soliciting a minor over a communication device
Thomas could now potentially receive up to 130 years in prison come his sentencing on May 15, 2023.
According to an announcement made by the Louisa County Sheriff’s Office, an investigation was launched in early 2022 after a Louisa County man checked his child’s phone and found messages of an inappropriate conversation with another person. A forensic examination of the phone determined that the communication came from a phone number with a Portland, Ore. area code.
Detectives determined that the suspect was a man — now identified as Thomas — living in a halfway house in Portland. A detective in Portland executed a search warrant at the halfway house and found the phone used to exploit the child. Thomas admitted he had recently left prison and was on probation.
Virginia State Police assisted in extraditing Thomas back to Virginia where a forensic examination was conducted of his phone. According to the sheriff’s department, Thomas also accidentally sent a picture of the back of one of his credit cards when sending illegal images to the minor.
The Louisa County Sheriff’s Office said Thomas was charged as a “serial sex offender” based on two prior convictions for sexual assault of minors in 2004.
In Thomas’ trial, the Louisa Commonwealth’s Attorney argued that his two prior convictions were substantially similar to Virginia’s aggravated sexual battery statute, allowing for enhanced punishment.
“I guess the message did not reach Portland to not exploit our children in Louisa County,” Louisa Commonwealth’s Attorney Rusty McGuire said. “We make protecting our children a priority and we will come for you no matter where you are if you attempt to exploit our children.”
Louisa County Sheriff’s recommends that concerned parents take the following steps to ensure their child’s online safety:
- Never give a young child the phone app store password. The child should be required to ask the parent to download and app. This also allows the parent to research the app on their own before allowing the download.
- Parents should also consider installing parental systems on their home internet to restrict inappropriate online content.
- Time controls can also be enforced on devices and home internet.
“He had a suspicion, and he did the right thing,” said Louisa County Sheriff Donnie Lowe, commenting on the action taken by the child’s father in this case. “And thank God, he just saved his daughter from becoming a victim.”