Thursday, June 26, 2008

Thomas Lee Nickels - Repeat Sex Offender - Trolling the Net for Victims

"Yes." said Nickels' mom. "We're pretty sure
we've reached the pinnacle. He has to do time."

In an investigation similar to the ones seen on "Dateline NBC's Top Catch a Predator," Hamilton county's Cyber Crimes Task Force surfs the web. Agents pose as teens. Sex chats start with adults and suspects are arrested. Those chats on the Internet helped police net Thomas Lee Nickels.

Sgt. Gerry Hepp with Fishers Police says "The task force arrested 3 people. Mr. Nickels is someone who caught our attention after the arrest."

In one week here, officers made three arrests, Kevin Livengood, screen name "running naked", Michael Nyberg and Thomas Nickels.

Sgt. Hepp says "We found that he was a registered sex offender. He physically harmed a child in 2003."

A 2003 police report shows the victim, who was only nine, was sexually molested and shown child porn on the Internet. Now, five years later, Hepp says "He can go home in the privacy of wherever he is and look for potential victims again."

In 2003 The court ordered Nickels to stay on the sex offender registry for life. Then this month, Police found Nickels in the chat rooms, seeking oral sex and more, with what he thought was a 14-year-old girl.

Flooding washed out one planned meet with the undercover cops. But last week Nickels turned up for a second one and police busted him.

The suspect's neighbor Joe Mentink says "That is frightening because we have a lot of young people in this complex." Nickels' neighbors discovered him on the state sex offender registry months ago and spread the word.

They value the web site.

"That has been a godsend," say Mentink. "We really like that. And you check that, yes, yes."

The suspect's mother was packing up his condo Wednesday night. We asked if her son has a problem. Effie Nickels said "Apparently. Now it's come to an end." She says Nickels did no prison time in 2003.

"Does he have remorse, does he regret this?", we asked.

"Yes." said Nickels' mom. "We're pretty sure we've reached the pinnacle. He has to do time."

"25% of all sex offenders re-offend within 15 years"
.........Sarah Tofte

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