A county man who volunteered at Union High School and was employed by the city of Union has been charged with sending pornography to a minor.
A Franklin County misdemeanor complaint was issued Wednesday, Feb. 21, charging Thomas W. Abbott, 32, of Labadie, with furnishing pornographic material to a minor.
According to the probable cause statement filed by the sheriff’s department in the Franklin County Prosecutor’s Office, Abbott engaged in sexually explicit conversations with a minor in the Union area between January and February. Authorities stated Abbott and the victim had been in contact since November 2017.
Abbott is being held at the Franklin County Jail on a $20,000 cash-only bond.
Authorities allege the conversation included descriptions of sexual acts that Abbott and the victim would engage in at various locations in the Union area.
On Jan. 22, Abbott allegedly sent the victim a photo of a nude male through social media using his cellphone.
Abbott was a volunteer with the Union High School wrestling team and other organizations within the school district.
According to the probable cause statement, Abbott had access to the victim through volunteer work at the school and was aware of the victim’s age, but still engaged in sexually explicit conversations.
The sheriff’s office stated that the activity was discovered by the victim’s mother who located pornography and conversations on the minor’s cellphone. She then contacted authorities.
On Tuesday, Abbott admitted to sending the minor a photo and engaging in sexual conversations, authorities said.
Franklin County Prosecutor Bob Parks noted the bail is higher than many misdemeanor charges because Abbott has a history of volunteering in schools.
“This is a continuing investigation and if new material develops then there will be new or additional charges filed,” he added.
Parks stated the Missouri Department of Public Safety determines if a person must register as a sex offender. He added it is unlikely Abbott would be required to do so unless additional charges are filed.
Union High School
Abbott most recently volunteered on a limited basis as a scorekeeper at both the middle school and high school wrestling matches, according to Union School District Superintendent Steve Weinhold. He also volunteered at after-school FFA activities as an FFA alumni member.
“At this point, we have no reports from any other students,” Weinhold told The Missourian.
The school district had a background check conducted on Abbott that was valid through April 3. The background check on file was “clean,” Weinhold said.
City of Union
Abbott also had been employed by the Union Parks and Recreation Department where he worked in concession stands at sports fields. He did not work at the Union Splash-N-Swimplex.
He also volunteered at the concession stands for local high school baseball and football teams.
St. Clair District
Abbott also was a substitute teacher one day for the St. Clair School District during the 2017-18 school year.
According to St. Clair Superintendent Kyle Kruse, once the district was made aware of the allegations, Abbott was removed from the substitute teacher list. School officials are providing law enforcement authorities with any assistance requested.
Union Editor Karen Butterfield and St. Clair Editor Elizabeth Barmeier contributed to this story.