40-year-old man gets 30 years in prison for trying to have sex with 5-year-old girl, 1-year-old boy

A 40-year-old man was sentenced to 30 years in prison for, among other crimes, trying to coordinate with an Orlando man to create and produce child sexual abuse materials with a five-year-old girl and one-year-old boy under the man’s custody.

On Thursday, Thomas VanGelder, who is from Holiday in Pasco County, was sentenced to 30 years in federal prison by U.S. District Judge Steven D. Merryday for attempted enticement of a minor and possessing child sex abuse material.

According to court records, VanGelder had been communicating online with another individual who sent VanGelder images and video of sexually explicit acts he performed with a child who had been in his custody. That individual was arrested by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, who then assumed online identity.

During the FBI’s communications with VanGelder, who believed he was still communicating with the individual, VanGelder sent multiple images of child sexual abuse and tried to arrange a meeting in order to engage in sexual activity with the individual’s child.

VanGelder suggested that the individual should hide sleeping pills in ice cream in order for VanGelder to sexually abuse the child while she was “passed out.”

VanGelder arranged to meet with the undercover agent on May 27, 2021, in order to engage in sexual activity with the agent’s purported child. Upon arrival, VanGelder was arrested by FBI agents.

During an interview with agents, VanGelder unsuccessfully attempted to solicit help from his then life-in girlfriend to destroy a green bag that was located under his bed. The messages were not sent due to lack of cell service.

The FBI obtained a search warrant for VanGelder’s residence and were able to recover the green bag. In the bag, they discovered multiple electronic devices, including an external hard drive. During a forensic analysis, authorities determined that VanGelder was in possession of over 4,000 images of child sexual abuse, including images depicting prepubescent children subjected to sadomasochistic conduct and bondage.

Authorities also discovered that VanGelder had been coordinating with an Orlando man in order to create and produce child sexual abuse materials with a five-year-old girl and a one-year-old boy who were under the Orlando man’s custody.

VanGelder pled guilty on May 31. After his 30-year sentence, VanGelder will serve a lifetime term of supervised release, according to court records.

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