WARNING: Graphic Content
TULSA, Okla. – A church youth group leader convicted of sending sexually suggestive messages to a teen was sentenced to more than a decade in federal prison.
Thomas Daniel Johnson, 49, of Sand Springs was sentenced to 135 months followed by 10 years of supervised probation.
“This fraudulent mentor’s illicit acts were brought to light in federal court,” said U.S. Attorney Clint Johnson in a prepared statement. “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 was convicted in February of attempted coercion and enticement of a minor.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Jeffrey Gallant said during the trial Johnson wrapped himself in “a cloak of authority” and took advantage of the victim’s trust, according to the statement.
Johnson, who was known to mentor adolescent and teenage boys, knew the victim’s family and volunteered as a youth leader at a church both families attended.
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.
During the trial, prosecutors argued Johnson engaged in a sexualized relationship using text messaging when the victim was 11, 12 and 13 years old.
Testimony showed 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.
The content of the text messages increased sexually with references to various sexual-related activities.
The victim testified that at first, he felt the exchange of texts and memes were jokes, but he grew increasingly uncomfortable as Johnson began routinely making comments about the victim’s genitals and physical appearance, as well as implying that he was sexually attracted to the victim.
Johnson repeatedly asked the victim to send pictures nude photographs of himself and suggested in messages a sexual relationship.
Johnson sent the victim a selfie of himself with a banana in his mouth simulating a sex act and during the texting exchange, asked the victim if he “could handle it” implicitly offering to perform a sex act with the victim.
The victim testified that he believed Johnson would have acted on his (Johnson’s) requests had the victim complied.
In 2020, the victim’s mother discovered numerous sexually explicit texts, memes and images sent to their son’s phone and confronted Johnson. The phone was turned over to authorities. Further examination of the phone revealed thousands of messages exchanged between Johnson and the victim, dating back to March 2019.