Former Richland County Boy Scouts leader embroiled in child porn scandal back in court soon

Thomas Close of Richland County has pleaded not guilty to all charges.

Ohio Boy Scouts leader, facing child pron charges, back in court soon

CLEVELAND, OH (WOIO) - Last week court documents released showed more than 7,800 former scout leaders nationwide were removed for allegations of child sexual abuse.

We learned there were 12,000 victims over the last several decades.

Here in Northeast Ohio, a local Boy Scouts leader accused of sexually exploiting boys in his troop is heading back to court soon.

Parents and children of Troop 406 in Shelby trusted him as their scout leader.

But last November, federal agents arrested 39-year-old Thomas Close of Richland County, known as “Aqua Joe.”

Close was indicted this January on two counts of sexual exploitation of children, one count of receipt and distribution of visual depictions of minors engaged in sexually explicit conduct and one count of possession of child pornography.

At least two underage victims were involved, according to the indictment.

Close has pleaded not guilty to all counts.

Federal investigators found videos of children changing clothes before and after swimming and connected them to Close.

According to the affidavit, Close admitted to creating some of the videos at his house, where he had a pool.

He also said he used a spy watch camera in changing areas like locker rooms.

Investigators say he had five terabytes of child porn on his computers.

Close will be back in federal court on May 20 at 11:30 a.m.

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