Man seeking to buy child as sex slave pleads guilty

By Stephanie Ujhelyi | The (Alliance) Review

Published:

The accused child sex slave shopper arrested within the City of Alliance avoided a jury trial, after pleading guilty to all charges on Wednesday.

According to an unidentified court employee, Robert W. Thomas Jr., 36, of Cuyahoga Falls pleaded to a bill of information, after allegedly attempting to buy a fictitious 10-year-old bride for $400 in mid-January.

It was the final pretrial conference before a trial was set to begin Monday.

Thomas is set to be sentenced at 10:30 a.m. July 24 in the same Akron courthouse and potentially could spend life in prison.

Documents surrounding the investigation, which originated through Alliance Police Department's efforts, recently were unlocked and provided some insight into the alleged crime. According to an affidavit filed by a Federal Bureau of Investigation special agent, she was contacted Jan. 8 by Lt. John Jenkins of the Alliance Police Department, who revealed an undercover officer had responded to Thomas' ad on the website, motherless.com, inquiring for "parents that would like to arrange a marriage of their daughter" to contact him privately. Upon contact, Thomas allegedly relayed to the officer that he wanted someone in the age "5-8 range," asking for a "ball park figure on costs" for the child, before advising "I want a young wife that I can train to be a slut."

After the undercover officer responded that he had a "slightly broke-in 10-year-old girl" and the cost would be $200 for the child and $200 for a finder's fee, Thomas responded. "She sounds good, and I'll gladly take it."

The defendant then agreed to meet the undercover officer to exchange the money for the "package," where he was arrested by Alliance police staked out in Jan. 11 in the 2300 block of West State Street.

Upon being taken into custody, Thomas allegedly admitted to Alliance police Detective Matthew Shatzer that he "was coming to buy a little girl" and that his intent was to have a sexual relationship with the 10-year-old child. He also advised that "he received child pornography over the Internet, which he saved on his home computer in folders named 'Jail Bait' and 'Family Love.'"

During his interest, Thomas admitted that after grooming the child with hugging and kissing, he planned to escalate contact to sexual intercourse as well as "taking sexually suggestive pictures of her."

The case generated attention from national media, including Nancy Grace and the Huffington Post.

Thomas has remained behind bars since his initial arrest by Alliance police.

Just last month, Thomas switched defense attorneys from Lawrence Whitney to Michael Feldman, according to court records.

In May, part-time officer Hope Rummel teamed up with Shatzer, Alliance's juvenile officer, as members of the Ohio Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force to apprehend child predators.

According to the International Centre for Missing and Exploited Children, at least 1.8 million children are used in commercial sex, many sold into sexual slavery by poor families and others abducted and trafficked into brothels.

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