U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) special agents issued a public appeal Monday for information related to an ongoing child exploitation investigation.
Thomas Close is awaiting trial on charges of production of child pornography related to his alleged surreptitious recording of boys changing after swimming as part of Boy Scout activities. Close, 40, lived in Richland County. He was known as “Aqua Joe” because he worked with the Boy Scouts of America, often with their swimming program.
Close is accused of secretly recording boys changing after they swam. His alleged crimes are believed to have happened in Ohio between 2011 and 2018. Close remains in jail pending the outcome of his federal criminal case.
If anyone suspects they or their children were recorded by the defendant, they are asked to email their contact information to HSI directly at HSI-CLOSE-Investigation@ice.dhs.gov. Please attach a photo of the child in question, preferably a photo that was taken around the years that Close would have had contact with your child you or your child had contact with Close so investigators can positively identify if the child is associated with this case. A member of the investigative team will respond to your request.
The privacy of crime victims and survivors is of the utmost importance. Authorities will do everything in its power to protect the privacy of anyone who responds to this inquiry.