The following is a press release issued by the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Norther District of Oklahoma on Monday, August 15, 2022.
A church youth group leader was sentenced Thursday in federal court for engaging in a sexualized relationship with a minor, announced U.S. Attorney Clint Johnson.
U.S. District Judge Karen E. Schreier sentenced Thomas Daniel Johnson, 49, of Sand Springs, to 135 months in prison followed by 10 years of supervised release. In February, a jury convicted Johnson of attempted coercion and enticement of a minor.
“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.”
Johnson knew the victim’s family and volunteered as a youth leader at a church both families attended. Johnson was known as a mentor to adolescent and teenage boys, so the victim’s family asked him to mentor their child.
On Aug. 15, 2020, the victim’s mother discovered numerous sexually explicit texts, memes and images sent to her child by Johnson and confronted the defendant. Then both parents contacted law enforcement and turned their child’s phone in to authorities. Further examination of the phone revealed thousands of messages exchanged between Johnson and the victim, dating back to March 2019.
During the trial, prosecutors contended that Johnson engaged in a sexualized relationship using text messaging when the minor was 11, 12 and 13 years old, thus committing the crime of attempted coercion and enticement of a minor.
The United States argued Johnson groomed the victim, first 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.
Then the sexualized relationship increasingly involved the exchange of memes and comments with references to oral sex, penises, ejaculation and more. Johnson eventually told the victim about several sexual experiences he (Johnson) had taken part in. 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 penis and physical appearance, as well as implying that he was sexually attracted to the victim.
Johnson repeatedly asked the minor to send pictures of his penis or “nudes.” The defendant further suggested in messages that he could give the victim oral sex or vice versa. A few days before the communications were discovered, Johnson sent the victim a selfie of himself with a banana in his mouth simulating oral sex and during the texting exchange, asked the victim if he “could handle it,” implicitly offering to perform oral sex on the minor victim.
The victim testified that he believed Johnson would have acted on his (Johnson’s) requests had the victim complied.
At trial, Assistant U.S. Attorney Jeffrey Gallant noted Johnson wrapped himself in “a cloak of authority” and took advantage of the victim’s trust. He stated that mentors set age-appropriate boundaries with children. Instead, Johnson, a man in his forties, repeatedly crossed those boundaries by sending a “cesspool of memes and messages” that degraded and sexualized a vulnerable boy.
The Sand Springs Police Department conducted the investigation. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Jeffrey A. Gallant and Valeria G. Luster prosecuted the case.
See trial press release here.