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May 7, 2015Tampa, FL, United StatesChild Exploitation

Former teacher sentenced to 15 years for online enticement of minor

TAMPA, Fla. – A former Florida teacher was sentenced Wednesday to 15 years in federal prison, followed by 10 years of supervision, for online enticement of a minor. This case was investigated by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), in conjunction with the U.S. Department of State.

According to court documents, between Dec. 14, 2013, and March 14, 2014, David Wendel Thompson, 49, of Seffner, used Facebook to attempt to persuade two minor females in Belize, ages 13 and 15, to engage in sexual intercourse with him. He did so using his own Facebook account and a fake Facebook account he had set up to appear as though it belonged to a female teenager in Belize.

On March 14, 2014, Thompson flew from Tampa to Belize, with a layover in Miami, to meet the minors with the intent of engaging in sexual activity. He was denied entry into Belize and returned to Miami, where he was arrested. Thompson admitted to communicating with the girls on Facebook and to knowing that they were underage. Before his arrest, Thompson was a social studies teacher at Centennial Middle School in Dade City. Thompson pleaded guilty Oct. 20, 2014.

“Crimes against children are always devastating, but it is particularly egregious when a person in a position of trust, like this teacher, conspires to commit such atrocities,” said Susan L. McCormick, special agent in charge of HSI Tampa. “This case is the result of hard work by HSI special agents in Tampa, Miami and the Cyber Crimes Center, as well as our partners at the U.S. Department of State.”

This investigation was conducted under HSI’s Operation Predator, an international initiative to protect children from sexual predators. Since the launch of Operation Predator in 2003, HSI has arrested more than 10,000 individuals for crimes against children, including the production and distribution of online child pornography, traveling overseas for sex with minors, and sex trafficking of children. In fiscal year 2014, more than 2,300 individuals were arrested by HSI special agents under this initiative and more than 1,000 victims identified or rescued.

HSI encourages the public to report suspected child predators and any suspicious activity through its toll-free Tip Line at 1-866-DHS-2-ICE or by completing its online tip form. Both are staffed around the clock by investigators. From outside the U.S. and Canada, callers should dial 802-872-6199. Hearing impaired users can call TTY 802-872-6196. Suspected child sexual exploitation or missing children may be reported to the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children, an Operation Predator partner, via its toll-free 24-hour hotline, 1-800-THE-LOST.

For additional information about wanted suspected child predators, download HSI’s Operation Predator smartphone app or visit the online suspect alerts page.

HSI is a founding member and current chair of the Virtual Global Taskforce, an international alliance of law enforcement agencies and private industry sector partners working together to prevent and deter online child sexual abuse.

Updated: 06/03/2015