Colonel Steven G. O'Donnell, Superintendent of the Rhode Island State Police and Commissioner of Public Safety, announces that on Friday, February 28, 2014, members of the Rhode Island State Police Computer Crimes Unit and Internet Crimes Against Children (ICAC) Task Force arrested Thomas L. Hewes, age 52, of 64 Verdant Drive, Cranston, Rhode Island, for the alleged crimes of Indecent Solicitation of a Child, Transfer of Child Pornography and Possession of Child Pornography.
Mr. Hewes is currently a social studies teacher at Gorton Junior High School in Warwick.
Mr. Hewes was arrested as a result of an investigation initiated when the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC) CyberTipline reported that a Meetme.com user with a profile identifying the user as a sixteen year old girl was soliciting sexual images from underage boys. The investigation by the Rhode Island State Police Computer Crimes Unit and ICAC Task Force led to the issuance of a court authorized search warrant for Hewes' residence at 64 Verdant Drive, Cranston. During the execution of the search warrant this morning, ICAC Task Force members seized digital media including two computers, an iPhone, an iPad and twenty-four (24) USB flash drives. The flash drives were hidden in a basement drop ceiling. A forensic preview of the digital media identified images and videos of alleged child pornography.
Mr. Hewes was arraigned on the above charges before the Honorable Associate Judge Frank J. Cenerini in Third Division District Court. Mr. Hewes was released on $10,000 personal recognizance with special conditions prohibiting Internet use and contact with children.
This investigation is ongoing and will include a full forensic examination of the seized digital media. At this point, no local victims have been identified.
The Rhode Island Internet Crimes Against Children (ICAC) Task Force actively engages in investigative efforts to identify subjects involved in child exploitation-related activities. The Rhode Island ICAC Task Force Program is administered by the Rhode Island State Police and supports a national network of multi-agency, multi-jurisdictional task forces engaged in investigations, forensic examinations, and prosecutions related to Internet crimes against children and technology-facilitated child sexual exploitation. The Rhode Island ICAC Task Force is comprised of members of the Rhode Island State Police Computer Crimes Unit along with detectives from the Coventry Police Department, Warwick Police Department, Pawtucket Police Department, Jamestown Police Department, Woonsocket Police Department, and North Kingstown Police Department; Portsmouth Police Department, Bristol Police Department and special agents from Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) and United States Postal Inspection Services (USPIS).
MEDIA CONTACT: Major Todd E. Catlow, Detective Commander, (401) 444-1005