VERDICT: Citizen’s Work Helps Convict Man of Sending 300+ Lewd Texts to ‘15-Year-old Girl’
A Columbia man was recently convicted of sending hundreds of lewd texts to whom he believed to be a 15-year-old girl – then attempting to meet the “girl” at a location in Lancaster city.
A private citizen’s work – posing as the girl and then recording the arranged meet-up – was important in the conviction of 37-year-old Thomas H. Wise.
Following a nonjury trial Monday in Lancaster County Court, County Judge Merrill Spahn found Wise guilty of seven counts: four felonies and three misdemeanors.
Spahn sentenced Wise to: time served – Wise has been in prison for 14 months; about 9 months on parole; followed by 5 years of probation.
Assistant District Attorney Fritz Haverstick presented evidence at the trial that Wise sent 336 text messages to the “girl,” discussing sexual history, a relationship between the two of them, and that he needed to be “careful because of her age.”
Wise also sent a lewd photo of himself and request one from “her,” and stated in detail sexual acts he wanted to engage in with “her.”
The arranged meeting was for July 19 at Binns Park in Lancaster – and Wise showed up. The private citizen met Wise there and video-recorded the encounter. That recording was part of trial evidence.
ADA Haverstick said at trial that police and prosecutors do not condone the citizen’s actions, but the case was about Wise’s criminal conduct.
Lancaster city police Detective Heather Halstead filed charges.
The judge found Wise not guilty of a felony and a misdemeanor. Those charges involved criminal attempt; he was convicted of solicitation, and a person cannot be convicted of both attempt and solicitation of the same act.
Wise must register his whereabouts with police, under Megan’s Law, for the rest of his life.
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