TULSA, Okla. (KFOR) – An Oklahoma youth group leader was sentenced to prison for having a sexualized relationship with a child.
A jury convicted 49-year-old Thomas Daniel Johnson of attempted coercion and enticement of a minor. The Sand Springs resident was sentenced in federal court to 135 months in prison, followed by 10 years of supervised release, according to a U.S. Department of Justice, Northern District of Oklahoma officials.
“This fraudulent mentor’s illicit acts were brought to light in federal court,” said U.S. Attorney Clint Johnson. “Make no mistake, Thomas Johnson’s interaction with this young man was calculated, predatory, and criminal. He will now spend more than a decade in prison to account for his conduct.”
Prosecutors argued Johnson had a sexualized relationship with the victim using text messages when the victim was 11, 12 and 13 years old.
Johnson was a youth leader at a church, mentoring adolescent and teenage boys.
“So the victim’s family asked him to mentor their child,” U.S. Department of Justice officials said.
The mother of the victim discovered on Aug. 15, 2020, that Johnson sent sexually explicit texts, memes and images to her child. She later confronted Johnson, according to officials.
Both parents notified law enforcement and gave their phone to investigators.
Investigators searched the phone and found thousands of messages between Johnson and the victim going back to March 2019.
U.S. attorneys argued Johnson groomed the victim by gaining the victim’s trust and friendship.
“Johnson regularly encouraged the victim and called the victim a stud, sexy beast, and made sexual references and jokes,” Dept. of Justice officials said.
Texting continued between Johnson and the victim, with highly explicit sexual references, as well as Johnson providing details about his past sexual experiences.
“The victim testified that at first, he felt the exchange of texts and memes were jokes, but he grew increasingly uncomfortable as the defendant began routinely making comments about the victim’s [genitalia] and physical appearance, as well as implying that he was sexually attracted to the victim,” officials said.
Johnson repeatedly asked the victim to send him nude photos and pictures of the victim’s genitalia. He also suggested the two of them perform sexual acts on each other, and later sent a photo of himself performing a sexual act on a piece of fruit, offering to do the same to the victim, according to officials.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Jeffrey Gallant said during the trial that Johnson wrapped himself in “a cloak of authority” as he exploited the victim’s trust. He said Johnson repeatedly crossed age-appropriate boundaries by sending a “cesspool of memes and messages,” degrading and sexualizing a vulnerable boy.