National Human Trafficking Prevention Month: U.S. Attorney and HSI Announce Partnership in Tornado Alley Child Exploitation and Trafficking Task Force
A Glenpool man was sentenced Tuesday for sexually exploiting a 16-year-old and other crimes, announced U.S. Attorney Clint Johnson.
U.S. District Judge Rodney W. Sippel sentenced Thomas Anthony Pearce, 55, to life in federal prison. On March 22, 2022, Pearce was convicted at trial of coercion or enticement of a minor, production of child pornography, possession of child pornography in Indian Country, and distribution of marijuana.
“Thomas Pearce preyed on a teenage girl that he coerced into engaging in sexual acts by providing her drugs. His illicit behavior escalated when he restrained her with zip ties and sexually assaulted her. He also photographed the sexual acts resulting in the producing and possessing child pornography charges,” said U.S. Attorney Clint Johnson. “Federal prosecutors and our law enforcement partners will do everything in our power to protect victims and bring to justice those who have harmed them. I am proud to say justice has been served in this case.”
“Protecting minors from sexual exploitation is one of the primary law enforcement priorities of Homeland Security Investigations. The deviant, calculated and exploitive actions of this defendant caused deep wounds and scars to the children he routinely victimized,” said Lester R. Hayes Jr., Special Agent in Charge HSI Dallas. “Our hope is now that justice has spoken and with this predator spending the remainder of his life behind bars, the victims he abused can continue the healing process.”
The crimes occurred from Feb. 3, 2021, through Feb. 8, 2021. Pearce met the victim online, coerced her into sexual activity, provided her with marijuana, and took sexually explicit photographs of the teenager. He was also found to possess additional child pornography on various electronic devices.
Pearce’s crimes were discovered after an alert Jenks police officer noticed a suspicious white Dodge pick-up parked on a partially paved area just off a road in the early morning hours of Feb. 8, 2021. As the officer turned around to investigate, the driver, later identified as Pearce, quickly drove away. The officer conducted a traffic stop and initiated contact with Pearce and a minor female in the passenger’s seat. Pearce claimed the minor was his niece but could not provide a phone number for the officer to contact the child’s parents.
During the stop, the minor victim told officers that she was high on marijuana that Pearce had given her and stated that nothing had occurred “this time” but that the defendant had zip tied her hands and took explicit pictures of her on another occasion. Pearce was taken into custody.
During a search of the vehicle at the scene, officers located marijuana, four thumb drives, a package of zip-ties, duct tape, three cell phones and other items.
The victim was later forensically interviewed. She disclosed that she and Pearce had contact on six different occasions and that Pearce’s sexual advances and abuse escalated with each encounter, to include sexually assaulting the victim, ziptying her, and taking sexually explicit photographs of her.
She stated that Pearce provided her with marijuana. He also told her to take a pill, which she refused.
On a phone found in the vehicle, investigators with Homeland Security Investigations and the Jenks Police Department discovered a file with the victim’s name on it, which contained explicit photographs depicting the sexual acts that the victim described in her interview.
In text messages between Pearce and the victim, Pearce made references to his sexual abuse of the victim, told the victim that she should take a pill that would make her feel good because “he said so,” and stated that he had had sexual encounters with other minors. When the victim texted that she did not want to meet him again, he threatened to harm her siblings.
Search warrants were also executed on Pearce’s residence in Glenpool and at two storage units in Tulsa. Officers seized a computer and numerous hard drives during the searches.
On a thumb drive seized, investigators found another file with a female’s name on it that contained sexually explicit images of a minor. The woman, now an adult, was contacted. She confirmed that she had met Pearce online while she was in high school and that Pearce had sex with her and took sexually explicit photographs. She stated that Pearce would pay her in cash, gifts and marijuana.
Investigators also located child pornography on one of the hard drives seized. Video and image titles specifically referenced “raped teens” and other child sexual abuse.
Pearce was one of 33 defendants apprehended during Operation Clean Sweep. The four-month long operation focused on identifying predators who exploit children and ultimately led to the identification of 12 child victims. The operation was conducted by the U.S. Attorney’s Office and more than a dozen local, state, tribal and federal law enforcement agencies in 10 of the 11 counties in the Northern District of Oklahoma.
Homeland Security Investigations and the Jenks Police Department conducted the investigation. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Victor A.S. Régal and Richard M. Cella prosecuted the case.