Former leader of Sand Springs church youth group sentenced | Crime News

A Sand Springs church youth group leader has been sentenced to prison after a jury found him guilty of having a sexualized relationship with a minor.

Thomas Daniel Johnson, 49, will spend 135 months – more than 11 years – in prison, followed by 10 years of supervised release, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Tulsa. He was sentenced on Thursday.

In February, a federal jury convicted Johnson of attempted coercion and incitement of a minor.

“The wrongful acts of this fraudulent mentor have been exposed in federal court,” U.S. Attorney Clint Johnson said. “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.

The U.S. attorney’s office declined to name the church, citing the youth’s privacy.

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Johnson knew the victim’s family and volunteered as a youth leader at a church, which both families attended, prosecutors said. Johnson was known as a mentor for teens and teens, so the victim’s family asked him to sponsor their child, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.

On August 15, 2020, the victim’s mother discovered numerous sexually explicit texts, memes and images that Johnson had sent her child and confronted the accused. The parents contacted law enforcement and handed over their child’s phone to authorities. Further examination of the phone revealed thousands of messages between Johnson and the victim, dating back to March 2019.

During the trial, prosecutors argued that Johnson engaged in a sexualized relationship using text messaging when the minor was 11, 12 and 13 years old, thereby committing the crime of attempted coercion and incitement to a minor.

Prosecutors argued that Johnson treated the victim, first gaining the victim’s trust and friendship. Johnson regularly encouraged the victim and called her a “stud” and “sexy beast” and made sexual references and jokes.

During the trial, Assistant U.S. Attorney Jeffrey Gallant noted that Johnson wrapped himself in “a cloak of authority” and took advantage of the victim’s trust. He said mentors set age-appropriate boundaries with children. Instead, Johnson, a man in his 40s, repeatedly crossed those boundaries by sending out a “sink of memes and messages” that degraded and sexualized a vulnerable boy.

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