Behind bars

Source: SEAN GLADWELL / Getty

A former boy scout leader based out of Richland County has been sentenced to 30 years in prison for “secretly filming boys” and distributing those images online.

From WKYC 3News Cleveland:

39-year-old Thomas Close of Shelby pleaded guilty to two counts of sexual exploitation of children and one count of distributing child pornography in September. Following his prison term, Close will be subject to lifetime supervised release, which includes lifetime sex offender registration obligations. He was also ordered to pay $949 in restitution and a $300 special assessment.

Close was arrested last fall after an investigation was conducted by he United States Department of Homeland Security along with local and state officials.  Hidden cameras were found in the house of the man known as “Aqua Joe,” leading to footage filmed between 2011 and 2018.

The boys in the footage would usually come from the Sandusky YMCA and Close’s own residence, along with the Firelands Scout Reservation in Wakeman, OH.

It was discovered that Close had over 110,000 image and video files of children in “sexually explicit conduct,” with 1,900 of those images created by Close himself.  143 of the victims have already been identified, with the youngest one being seven-years-old.


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Article Courtesy of WKYC 3News Cleveland

First Picture Courtesy of South_agency and Getty Images

Second Picture Courtesy of Sean Gladwell and Getty Images

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