Petersburg, Illinois, Man Charged with Sexual Exploitation of a Minor, Receipt, and Distribution of Child Pornography
Springfield, Ill. – A federal grand jury in Springfield today returned an indictment that charges Thomas L. Bishop, 60, of the 1600 block of West Bradley Ave., in Champaign, Ill. with attempted enticement of a minor. Bishop is scheduled to appear for arraignment tomorrow, Sept. 5, 2019, in Urbana, before U.S. Magistrate Judge Eric I. Long.
Bishop was arrested on Aug. 23, 2019, and charged by criminal complaint. According to the affidavit filed in support of the complaint, on Aug. 20, Bishop allegedly initiated a text message conversation with an online covert profile of a law enforcement officer on a popular online dating / chatting application. Following the initial contact, the defendant and the undercover officer engaged in numerous sexually explicit text message conversations, including conversations in which the defendant allegedly requested that the minor send sexually explicit photos of himself to the defendant. The affidavit alleges that on Aug. 23, the defendant believed he was meeting a 15-year-old boy at a pre-determined location in Champaign to take the minor to his residence for a sexual encounter. Instead, law enforcement officers arrested Bishop.
The indictment returned today charges Bishop with the offense of attempted enticement of a minor, from Aug. 20 to Aug. 23, 2019, using the internet and a cellular telephone, both means of interstate commerce, to knowingly entice a minor under the age of 18 to engage in sexual activity for which any person can be charged with a criminal offense. If convicted, the statutory penalty for the offense is 10 years to life in prison plus a fine of up to $250,000.
Following his arrest, Bishop made his initial court appearance on Aug. 26, 2019, before U.S. Magistrate Judge Long, who ordered that Bishop be detained. Bishop has remained in the custody of the U.S. Marshals Service since his arrest.
The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Elly M. Peirson, The charge is the result of investigation by the Federal Bureau of Investigation with the assistance of the Champaign Police Department’s Street Crimes Unit.
Members of the public are reminded that an indictment is merely an accusation; the defendant is presumed innocent unless proven guilty.
The case was brought as part of Project Safe Childhood, a nationwide initiative to combat child sexual exploitation and abuse launched in May 2006 by the Department of Justice. For more information about Project Safe Childhood, please visit www.projectsafechildhood.gov.