ONLINE CHATS LEAD TO SEXUAL ASSAULT ON MIDDLE SCHOOLER
Monday, May 10, 2010 — An Arlington Heights man is free on $350,000 bond after he was arrested for sexually assaulting a middle school girl he met through a social networking website, Cook County Sheriff Thomas J. Dart announced Monday.
Terrill Thomas, 26, of the 2600 block of North Waterman Avenue, is charged with one count of aggravated criminal sexual abuse. His parents posted the required 10 percent of his $350,000 bond after he appeared in court on Saturday.
His weekend arrest marks the second time in three years that Thomas has been arrested for sexually assaulting a teenage girl.
Thomas met the 13-year-old victim in early January after he saw her picture on the website myyearbook.com, a social networking site specifically targeted to teens. Records show he sent numerous unsolicited messages to multiple girls registered on the website, asking if they would chat with him via text message instead of online. When the victim responded with her phone number, they began communicating both online and by telephone. Thomas asked for more pictures of the victim and she sent them to him by email.
Through their talks, Thomas said he was only 20. The victim initially told Thomas she was 18, but later said she was 14. Over the next 10 days, they communicated regularly and the victim gave Thomas her home address. He then arranged to come over while her parents were away at work.
While driving to her house, Thomas called to ask if there was somewhere close to purchase condoms and lubricant. She directed him to a nearby drugstore and surveillance footage from the store showed him purchasing those items. Thomas then drove to her neighborhood, parked on the next block and walked to her home, where he repeatedly sexually assaulted her in her bedroom.
Thomas kept a used condom with him when he left the house, but semen was found on the victim’s clothing, ultimately providing investigators with a DNA match to Thomas.
Sheriff’s police began investigating the case in late January, after the victim’s parents learned of the assault. Thomas had taken several steps in an attempt to distance himself from the online activity with the girl, including using public computers, multiple emails and using a fake name to secure a phone number through a free online service, then having the calls forwarded to his phone.
But after extensive work by investigators and with support from the Chicago Regional Computer Forensics Laboratory, Thomas was arrested on Friday.
By request of the victim’s family, the sheriff’s office is not identifying the city where she lives.
This is the second time Thomas has been arrested for sexually abusing a teenage girl. In 2007, when he was 24, Hoffman Estates police found him in his car, having sex with a 15-year-old girl. He was charged with aggravated criminal sexual abuse and battery, but was ultimately convicted only of battery. He was sentenced to one year of probation for that conviction.
In March 2009, Chicago police arrested Thomas for battery causing bodily injury. After that conviction, he was sentenced to one year of probation, which was set to expire in September.
His next court date for this charge is set for May 27 in Maywood.