Courtesy photo Henry Thompson is charged with soliciting a child by electronic device after police said he text messaged a 13-year-old girl from his church’s youth group.
By Sharna Johnson: CNJ staff writer
Police arrested a 54-year-old Clovis man Sunday after intercepting sexually-explicit communication he is accused of having with a 13-year-old girl.
Officials said Henry Thompson met the girl through his work with a local church youth group.
Thompson was arrested around 8 p.m. at Hillcrest Park when he showed up for a meeting he thought he’d arranged with the girl, according to a news release from the Clovis Police Department.
Thompson is being held on a $50,000 bond on five felony counts of solicitation of a child by electronic device. He is accused of sending text messages to Clovis police detectives and Curry County Sheriff’s Office investigators who were posing as the 13-year-old, the release said.
The investigation was launched Thursday when the girl’s mother went to police with explicit text messages she found on her daughter’s cell phone, according to an arrest affidavit filed in Curry County Magistrate Court.
The mother identified Thompson as a man who was involved in their church and takes the church’s youth group to Castleland Park, a local recreation center.
The woman said she had also dropped her daughter off at Thompson’s home so he could take her with the youth group, the affidavit said.
The church is not identified in court records and Capt. Patrick Whitney declined to identify the church where Thompson and the girl met.
“The case could expand to other possible child victims,” Whitney wrote Monday in an e-mail.
Revealing activities in which Thompson was allegedly involved “could jeopardize the ongoing investigation and possible future investigations that may stem from this case,” Whitney wrote.
Records show police took custody of the girl’s cell phone and continued communicating with Thompson, arranging a meeting with him at the park.
Police discovered text messages on the girl’s phone that gave descriptions of sexual activities Thompson allegedly wanted to engage the girl in, a “very sexually explicit” voice message and at least one photo of male genitalia.
During an interview with detectives at the sheriff’s office, Thompson admitted to sending the text, voice and photo messages, telling officers he photographed his genitalia while in a portable bathroom at Cannon Air Force Base, the affidavit said.
Thompson has moved frequently. He was working as a pipe-fitter/welding contractor at Cannon Air Force Base and had plans to move to California next month, Whitney said.
“I think the lesson to parents is they do definitely need to be monitoring their kid’s cell phone activities, not just what Web sites they may be visiting,” Whitney said.
Investigators are in the process of notifying law enforcement in other areas Thompson has lived, he said, to determine if he has prior offenses or was suspected in similar cases.
Investigators have seized evidence from Thompson’s Norris Street residence and vehicle in addition to phone records, the release said.