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Sex offender spotted with underage girl

Courtney Astolfi • May 13, 2014 at 4:50 PM

A habitual sex offender was arrested Monday after he was seen holding hands with an underage girl and subsequently found to be living at a different address than the one at which he was registered, police said.

Thomas Wood, 39, 500 block Camp St., was charged with failure to register as a sex offender, a second-degree felony.

A Pearl Street woman with whom Wood lived for a few years called Sandusky police Sunday afternoon after she heard rumors of Wood holding a 15-year-old girl’s hand at 7-Eleven, according to a Sandusky police report.

The report immediately raised officers’ alarm bells because Wood was indicted in 2006 on three counts unlawful sexual conduct with a minor for engaging in sexual conduct with a 15-year-old girl. He was also charged with gross sexual imposition at the time for sexual conduct with a second underage girl, according to Erie County court documents.

He later accepted a plea deal and served time behind bars for the offenses. Ever since, Wood’s been required to register as a sex offender and must not be alone with children.

When officers contacted Wood on Sunday with the recent allegations, he admitted living with the girl and her mother at their Camp Street home. His former roommate said he’d been living there for four days without notifying the proper authorities, an Erie County deputy’s report said.

Officers told Wood of the 7-Eleven rumors, but both Wood and the girl — who was listening to the call over speakerphone — denied holding hands, the report said.

The girl’s mother first denied allowing Wood to be alone with her daughter, but later said she let Wood walk the child to her busstop, unsupervised.

The mother also admitted allowing Wood and her daughter to walk alone to 7-Eleven, the report said.

Both Wood and the girl said during that trip to the store, the girl handed off a bag to Wood.

“(Wood and the girl) claimed ... their hands may have touched when she was handing one of the bags to Thomas” the report stated.

Additionally, Wood’s former roommate told officers in March that Wood used Sandusky Library computers to view photos and chat with underage girls via social media.

Sandusky officers arrested Wood at his workplace Monday morning and alerted social workers to the incident.

He is now being held at the Erie County jail without bond.

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