05/18/07 — Reservist convicted of spying on adopted daughter

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Reservist convicted of spying on adopted daughter

By Lee Williams
Published in News on May 18, 2007 1:54 PM

A U.S. Air Force reservist was ordered to spend 90 days in prison Thursday after he was convicted of spying on his adopted daughter with a Web cam and downloading child pornographic videos.

Thomas Edward Anderson, 41, of 501 Goldleaf Drive, was charged with 10 counts each of third-degree sexual exploitation of a minor, second-degree sexual exploitation of a minor and one count of secret peeping. On Thursday, a jury of six women and six men found him guilty on all counts.

At Wayne County Superior Court Judge Jerry Braswell's request, Anderson rose from his seat and placed his hands behind his back. He offered no apology to the victims and only a few words to the court.

"I've been convicted," Anderson said. "I don't know what to say."

Before imposing sentence, Braswell spoke harshly about Anderson's behavior and called it "despicable."

"By your conduct, you lost a wife -- that marriage has dissolved -- you lost the admiration and respect of your adopted daughter, you were separated from your other children and you were dismissed from the Air Force," Braswell said.

Anderson was a U.S. Air Force reservist and also worked on the Seymour Johnson Air Force Base as an aircraft computer repairman, sheriff's officials said. In light of the case, Anderson was discharged from the Air Force with an "other than honorable discharge," officials said.

"I think one of the most important responsibilities we have in this society is to protect our children and those who can't protect themselves," Braswell said.

Anderson took the witness stand during the four-day trial that ended Thursday.

Clips of some of the child pornographic videos were shown to the jurors.

Defense attorney Geoff Hulse asked Braswell not to impose any prison time since Anderson had a "clean record."

"There was no suggestion that he hurt Clara, his other children or his wife," Hulse said. "I have not heard anything to suggest that Mr. Anderson is a violent person or a threat to society."

Among the stipulations imposed by Braswell, Anderson was ordered to spend 90 days in prison and 48 months on probation. He was also ordered to serve 250 hours community service, pay a $1,000 fine and register as a sex offender.

The case which led to a joint investigation by the Wayne County Sheriff's Office and the SBI began in April 2005 when Clara Anderson discovered a Web cam in her bedroom, hidden in a heating and air conditioning vent and connected to a computer.

Sheriff's detectives were called to investigate and the computer was seized. Child pornographic material was found on the computer seized by the sheriff's officers. Anderson was then charged by the SBI for 10 counts each of third-degree sexual exploitation of a minor and second-degree sexual exploitation of a minor.

Third-degree sexual exploitation of a minor was lodged against Anderson for allegedly possessing the child pornographic material. Second-degree sexual exploitation of a minor was levied against Anderson after he allegedly downloaded the child pornographic material off the Internet, officials said.

Wayne County Sheriff Carey Winders said he was proud of the joint efforts of the SBI and Wayne County Sheriff's Detective Sgt. Tammy Odom for their work that helped the state win a strong conviction.

"It was an in depth investigation and I would like to say thank you to Sgt. Odom and the SBI for their efforts in making sure this type of person is off the streets to make it safer for our children," Winders said.