RICHLAND COUNTY, Ohio — Federal authorities are looking for child victims related to alleged crimes of a 39-year-old former Richland County Boy Scout official who is accused of recording boys changing after swimming as part of the Boy Scout activities, according to a release from the Department of Justice.
Thomas Close, 40, of Shelby, who was affiliated with the Boy Scout Troop 406, was charged in federal court in November 2018 with the sexual exploitation of children and receiving and distributing child pornography.
Known as “Aqua Joe,” he worked with the Boy Scouts of America, often with their swimming program. Close allegedly filmed underage boys changing at a YMCA facility in Sandusky, attorneys said.
The alleged crimes are believed to have taken place in Ohio between 2011 and 2018. Close also admitted to downloading child pornography. Investigators found five terabytes of child pornography on his computer.
Close remains incarcerated pending the outcome of his federal criminal case.
Federal authorities are asking if anyone suspects they or their children were recorded by Close, to email their contact information to investigators at the Homeland Security Investigations at HSI-CLOSE-Investigation@ice.dhs.gov.
Investigators ask that a photo be attached to the email of the child in question, preferably taken around the years that Close allegedly would have had contact with the child. From there, investigators will use the photos to positively identify or rule out if the child is associated with this case.
The U.S. Attorney's Office reiterated in a news release that it will do everything in its power to protect the privacy of anyone who responds to the inquiry.