Georgia Man Sentenced to 121 Months on Child Pornography and Attempted Enticement Charges
|U.S. Attorney's Office November 23, 2009|
The Office of the United States Attorney for the District of Vermont stated that Georgia resident, Thomas Earl Douglas, 63, was sentenced on November 23, 2009 to 121 months in federal prison after he was convicted on charges of transporting child pornography and attempting to persuade a minor to engage in illegal sexual activity. Douglas has been detained in the custody of the United States Marshals Service since his arrest in August of 2007. Judge Sessions also sentenced Douglas to a 5-year term of supervised release to be served after Douglas’s prison sentence.
Douglas faced a statutory mandatory minimum prison sentence of 120 months. Under the United States Sentencing Guidelines, which are now advisory, the recommended range of imprisonment was 121 to 151 months. In sentencing Douglas, Judge Sessions noted the seriousness of the offense and Douglas’s refusal to accept responsibility.
Court records reveal that on May 7 and May 8 of 2007, Douglas engaged in a series of online conversations with a person whom he believed to be the mother of a 13-year-old girl from Vermont. During the online conversations, Douglas tried to persuade the mother to bring her daughter to him so that Douglas could sexually abuse the child. In the midst of an online conversation on May 8, 2007, Douglas sent the mother an image of child pornography. Court records show that Douglas was likely in Alabama or Florida during the online communications.
In August of 2007, Douglas engaged in several telephone conversations with a person whom he believed was the same Vermont mother. During those conversations, Douglas attempted to make arrangements to meet with the mother and daughter so that he could sexually abuse the child.
As Court records show, on May 7 and May 8 of 2007, Douglas was, in fact, communicating with Detective Andrew Chaulk of the South Burlington Police Department. Detective Chaulk, working in conjunction with the Vermont Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force, was online conducting undercover operations. Detective Chaulk, together with a female police officer, coordinated the August phone calls as well. Throughout the investigation, the South Burlington Police Department worked closely with the FBI and the United States Attorneys’ Offices in the District of Vermont and the Middle District of Alabama. The FBI arrested Douglas in August of 2007 at truck stop in Texas.
According to Court records, a federal grand jury in the District of Vermont returned a superseding indictment on September 25, 2008 charging Douglas with one count of transporting child pornography and one count of attempting to persuade a minor to engage in illegal sexual activity. The trial jury, which began hearing evidence on November 21, 2008, convicted Douglas on both counts of the superseding indictment. Assistant United States Attorneys Gregory L. Waples and Timothy C. Doherty, Jr. handled the prosecution of this matter. Douglas is represented by Frank Twarog from the law firm Murdoch, Hughes, & Twarog.
The United States Attorney commended the South Burlington Police Department and the FBI for their outstanding work on this investigation. U.S. Attorney Tristram J. Coffin noted that this prosecution is part of the U.S. Department of Justice's Project Safe Childhood, a nationwide initiative designed to protect children from online exploitation and abuse. Led by the U.S. Attorneys' Offices, 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 identify and rescue victims. For more information about Project Safe Childhood, please visit www.projectsafechildhood.gov.