Ohio Boy Scout Leader Arrested and Charged with Producing Child Porn

A Boy Scout leader in Ohio was arrested last week charged with the production of child pornography. The man, 39-year-old Thomas Close, also known as Joe Close, admitted to recording underage scouts over a seven-year period.

Close is reported to have been the Scoutmaster of Troop 406 in Shelby, Ohio, chartered by the First Evangelical Lutheran Church. He may also have worked as a Boy Scouts of America paid employee at the Firelands Scout Reservation at some point.

The Cyber Crimes center reportedly alerted Homeland Security agents of videos taken of underage boys changing before or after swimming at the YMCA in Sandusky, Ohio.  The YMCA sometimes rents its pool to the Boy Scouts.

Officials say that after review, they believe Close recorded several videos of boys changing in and out of their clothes at the YMCA, in teepees at the Firelands Scout Reservation, and inside the bathroom of a home with a swimming pool. Investigators reportedly went to Close’s home and determined that it was the same bathroom as in one of the videos. They also said he has a pool in his backyard.

According to authorities. Close admitted to making the videos between 2011 and the summer of 2018.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office said Close had five terabytes of child pornography on his computer, which he admitted to downloading. Investigators say Close admitted he had been downloading child porn from the internet since he was 16 years old, and that he stated his sexual preference was for boys between the ages of six and 16.

This arrest and similar incidents highlight the fact that the sexual exploitation of young boys in Boy Scouts by adult leaders is an ongoing problem.  That Close began collecting child porn at age 16 – before he was old enough to be a Scoutmaster – demonstrates that men who are sexually attracted to children go where they will find children.  Organizations like the Boy Scouts know this because they have a sad history of failing to protect children from men like Close.

Anyone who knows of information about Close that may be relevant to the criminal investigation, including his unsupervised contact with children should contact HSI at 216-749-9602.

The Boy Scouts of America’s Lake Erie Council includes Ashtabula, Lake, Geauga, Cuyahoga, Lorain, Erie and Huron counties in Ohio.

 

 

Dumas Law Group has law offices in Portland, Oregon and serves clients in Oregon, Washington, Idaho, and other states.

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