Basketball referee/coach facing child porn charges

3:29 PM, Dec 13, 2012   |    comments
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NEW PHILADELPHIA -- A local basketball coach and referee is facing child pornography charges.

According to the Tuscarawas County Sheriff's office, Thomas E. Wright, 32, was arrested on a secret indictment at 2 a.m. Friday at a residence in Gnadenhutten.

Wright remains in the Tuscarawas County Jail until his arraignment.

The sheriff's office says the investigation began in February 2011 with Bethesda (Ohio) Police Department and the Sexual Predator Internet Initiative out 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 as located in Tuscarawas County.

A search warrant for Wright's Dover residence 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 Thomas Wright denied any knowledge or association with child pornography images and / or videos, according to the sheriff's department.

Wright had previously coached basketball for Riverview Schools, Indian Valley Schools, and AAU basketball teams and at times would referee games.

According to the sheriff's department, 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 Thomas Wright, a homemade video of a boy who was 16 years old at the time -- now an adult -- was located.

The parents of the boy confirmed the identity to be their son.

It was learned the video was produced on the cell phone of Thomas Wright and then transferred to his laptop.

Special Agent Jacob Kunkle of the FBI also assisted in the investigative portion of this case.

Investigators say Wright ultimately confessed to being the person responsible for searching and downloading child pornography images located on the laptop computer.


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