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Carmel man sentenced to 22 years after grooming, sexually exploiting teenager

(Provided Photo/Brian A. Jackson/Getty Images via WIBC)

CARMEL, Ind. (WISH) — A Carmel man was sentenced to 22 years behind bars after having a sexual relationship with a minor and possession of child sexual abuse material.

Thomas Martin, 27, was sentenced to 275 months in federal prison, followed by 20 years of supervised release after pleading guilty to the distribution of visual depictions of minors engaged in sexually explicit conduct and possession of child sexual abuse material, according to a news release.

Martin admitted to the crime of sexually exploiting a minor in Carmel.

According to court documents, officers with the Carmel Police Department received a report of sexual exploitation of a 15-year-old boy in late 2022. The report found that Thomas had asked the boy to meet in person after communication on Grinder, an online dating app.

Thomas initially lied to the boy about his age and identity to groom him. Martin met with the 15-year-old multiple times over three weeks at his apartment in Carmel and other public locations to have sex.

Thomas bought the victim clothes, dinners, and a birthday cake when he turned 16 years old.

Detectives searched Thomas’ phone and found “live photos” of him and the child and images of the two at restaurants and public meeting spots.

Martin must pay $10,000 in restitution and must register as a sex offender wherever he lives, works, or goes to school.


“Martin sexually abused and exploited a 15-year-old boy, having gained his adoration and trust online. Taking advantage of vulnerable teens for sexual gain is a despicable crime that merits significant prison time,” said U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Indiana, Zachary A. Myers, in a release. “The sentence imposed today should serve as a warning to would-be groomers and offenders: if you solicit and exploit minors for sex, you will spend many years in federal prison.”

“This defendant earned his lengthy prison sentence by propagating the online victimization of minors and by seeking out and abusing a victim here in Indiana,” said Special Agent in Charge Herb Stapleton of the Indianapolis Federal Bureau of Investigation in a release. “Thanks to the dedication of our crimes against children investigators, in partnership with the Carmel Police Department, this individual will be behind bars for a very long time.”

“The Carmel Police Department has teams dedicated to preventing and solving child exploitation. We are proud to work closely with our federal and local partners in bringing justice to those who are victims of these cases. The work done by all involved in Mr. Martin’s case shows our dedication to protecting our most valuable asset, our children. This type of heinous crime simply will not be tolerated,” said Carmel Police Chief, Drake Sterling, in a release.

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