Man sentenced to 40 years for multiple child sex crimes, including producing child pornography

Local News

SOUTHAMPTON COUNTY, Va. (WAVY) — A 36-year-old man from Southampton County has been sentenced to 40 years in prison for multiple child sex crimes including producing child pornography.

James William Thomas, III, 36, was found guilty by a jury back in February 2020 on seven counts of production of child pornography and three counts of possession of child pornography.

Court documents say his crimes were discovered in 2014 after he was caught burglarizing a coin shop in Franklin. Investigators were able to obtain a search warrant of his home and were able to seize evidence in connection with 25 unsolved burglaries in Virginia and North Carolina.

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When investigators got hold of Thomas’ properties, they were also able to recover computers and other digital devices which contained detailed folders on the devices with names of child victims and saved chat sessions.

This case was part of Project Safe Childhood which is a nationwide initiative by the Department of Justice to combat the growing epidemic of child sexual exploitation and abuse.

Officials say Thomas’ crimes spanned years and began when he was in his late 20’s when posed as a 17-year-old boy and befriended female victims on social media who were between the ages of 12-16. Thomas then groomed these victims and convinced them to produce naked images of themselves to send to him.

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In some instances, investigators say he even convinced them to masturbate over a webcam, which Thomas recorded and saved.

To keep track of chats he had with minors, officials say Thomas used a “cheat sheet” at the top of the saved chat sessions for each victim, which contained information including the victim’s name, age, phone number, and other facts, such as how easily they provided him with naked images.

In one of these cases, Thomas convinced a 14-year-old girl to meet him for sex on three separate occasions. Each time, investigators say Thomas had the victim pose naked for photographs and then recorded their sexual encounters.

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