Local basketball coach facing child pornography charges

Published:

Thomas E. Wright, 32, was arrested on a secret indictment on Friday, Dec. 8 at approximately 2 a.m. by Tuscarawas County Sheriff Deputy Travis Stocker at a residence in Gnadenhutten.

The grand jury indictment remains in the custody of the Tuscarawas County Jail until his arraignment.

The investigation began in February 2011 with Bethesda Police Department and the Sexual Predator Internet Initiative of Belmont County. Investigator Jeremy Campbell initiated the investigation after observing a computer on a Peer-to-Peer program was actively downloading and sharing known child pornography images and videos.

In late June 2011, the IP address associated with the computer hosting and sharing the known child pornography images was identified to be located in Tuscarawas County. A Search Warrant for the address of 129 Bell Ave., Dover (Wright's residence at the time), was executed on July 15, 2011, by the Tuscarawas County Sheriff's Office with assistance from the Dover Police Department. Wright's laptop was ultimately identified as the computer that was downloading and sharing child pornography images and videos in February 2011. During an interview on July 15, 2011, Wright denied any knowledge or association with child pornography images and/or videos.

Wright had previously coached basketball for Riverview and Indian Valley schools, and AAU basketball teams and at times would referee games. Even after the execution of the search warrant and interview, Wright continued to put himself in the position of coaching and having close contact with juvenile males.

During the forensic exam of the laptop computer of Wright, a homemade video of a male who was 16 years old at the time (now an adult) was located. The parents of the local male confirmed the identity to be their son. It was learned the video was produced on the cell phone of Wright and then transferred to his laptop.

Special Agent Jason Kunkle of the FBI also assisted in the investigation portion of this case. Wright ultimately confessed to being the person responsible for searching and downloading child pornography images located on the laptop computer as well and the homemade video of the local male.

Wright is being charged with four counts of pandering sexually oriented matter involving a minor and two counts of pandering obscenity involving a minor.

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