By Phil Trexler
Beacon Journal staff writer
Federal authorities are assuming jurisdiction in the criminal case being lodged against a Cuyahoga Falls man accused of trying to buy a young girl.
The FBI office in Cleveland, along with U.S. attorneys in the Northern District of Ohio, announced the filing of the federal charge Wednesday against Robert W. Thomas.
The two offices said in a joint news release that the decision to move the case from Stark County courts to the federal court system came “after intensive review with consideration given to the nature and the seriousness of the offense.”
Thomas, 36, now faces one federal count of selling or buying a child. More charges are possible.
“Mr. Thomas should be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law, and these federal charges will ensure justice is served. Law enforcement will continue to proactively and aggressively pursue predators that intend to harm our children,” said Stephen D. Anthony, special agent in charge of the Cleveland FBI office.
Thomas was arrested Saturday in Alliance, where authorities say he had driven to meet a person he believed was a man willing to sell his 10-year-old daughter for $400.
Alliance police say they first encountered Thomas when he placed a personal ad on a social media site in which he sought to have a marriage arranged.
A search of his home after his arrest revealed a library of pornography and a vast collection of sexual devices, a search warrant inventory shows. Police believe Thomas was intent on making the girl a sex slave.
“The conduct laid out in these charges is disturbing. Our office remains committed to working with the FBI and all our law enforcement partners to defend our children and fight human trafficking,” said Steven Dettelbach, the Cleveland-based U.S. Attorney whose office will prosecute the case.