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Press Release

Parkersburg Man Sentenced to Prison for Child Pornography Crime

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Southern District of West Virginia

CHARLESTON, W.Va. – Robert Anthony Thomas, 47, of Parkersburg, was sentenced today to six years in prison, to be followed by 15 years of supervised release, for distribution and attempted distribution of child pornography. Thomas must also register as a sex offender.

According to court documents and statements made in court, from about June 1, 2020, through about August 23, 2022, Thomas made over 105,000 digital media files of child pornography available to others by using a peer-to-peer file sharing program. Thomas admitted that he knew the digital media files contained child pornography and would be downloaded by others. Thomas further admitted that the digital media files included a video file of a prepubescent female engaged in sexually explicit conduct.

On August 23, 2022, law enforcement officers executed a search warrant at Thomas’ residence and seized electronic devices including a computer and an external hard drive. Thomas told the officers that he worked as a custodian at a local elementary school. Thomas has since been terminated from that position. Thomas also told officers that he routinely ran a scrubbing program on his electronic devices to delete their data, and provided the search terms he used to find sexually explicit images of minor females.

A forensic analysis of the electronic devices revealed over 37,000 digital media files of child pornography. Thomas admitted that many of these images and videos depict prepubescent minors, including infants and toddlers. Thomas further admitted that several of the images and videos depict known child victims.

United States Attorney Will Thompson made the announcement and commended the investigative work of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security-Homeland Security Investigations (HSI).

Senior United States District Judge John T. Copenhaver, Jr. imposed the sentence. Assistant United States Attorneys Julie M. White and Joshua Hanks prosecuted the case.

This case was brought as part of Project Safe Childhood, a nationwide initiative to combat the growing epidemic of child sexual exploitation and abuse launched in May 2006 by the Department of Justice. Led by U.S. Attorneys’ Offices and the Criminal Division's Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section (CEOS), Project Safe Childhood marshals federal, state and local resources to better locate, apprehend and prosecute individuals who exploit children via the Internet, as well as to identify and rescue victims. For more information about Project Safe Childhood, please visit www.justice.gov/psc.

A copy of this press release is located on the website of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of West Virginia. Related court documents and information can be found on PACER by searching for Case No. 2:23-cr-70.

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Updated August 30, 2023

Topic
Project Safe Childhood