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.
He 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 cell phone. She then contacted authorities.
On Tuesday, Abbott admitted to sending the minor a photo and engaging in sexual conversations, authorities said.
Abbott had been employed by the Union Parks and Recreation Department, where he worked for the sports field concession stands.
He also volunteered at the concession stands for local high school baseball and football teams.
Abbott 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 and is providing law enforcement authorities with any assistance requested.
Previously, he worked as a paraprofessional in St. Clair for two months during the 2016-2017 school year. Since August 2013, Abbott worked as a substitute teacher in the St. Clair R-XIII School District a total of 9 days. He has never worked as a substitute teacher, or in any other capacity, in the high school building, Kruse said.
According to the sheriff’s office, the investigation is ongoing, and parents and guardians are encouraged to talk with their children regarding internet safety, especially through social media.
If anyone believes their child has had contact with Abbott in an inappropriate way, they are asked to contact the sheriff’s office at 636-583-2560 to file a report.
See an expanded story in the Weekend Missourian.