GREENSBURG, Ind. — A Greensburg man has been sentenced to spend 30 years in federal prison after pleading guilty to sexually exploiting a young child.

In an apartment above a shop with Paradise in the name, a 12-year-old girl was living in her own form of hell. Court documents detail that she was trapped by fear of her mother’s live-in boyfriend and fear for her mom and herself.

This was how the government’s sentencing memorandum against Anthony Laquinn Thomas began. The document goes on to detail the abuse that the girl and her mother suffered at the hands of Thomas, and what finally led to him facing justice.

The sentencing memorandum states the girl had good reason to think that no one would believe her story. On two separate occasions, she disclosed to trusted family members that Thomas was abusing her. However, the abuse kept happening because Thomas made those family members believe that she was lying.

“Whenever he told me to keep it a secret, three years I’ve had to go through it.”

Government’s Sentencing Memorandum against Anthony Laquinn Thomas

The document states the girl saw no way out until police knocked on her door on April 24, 2019.

That morning, the 5th-grade student didn’t show up for school. Worried, the document states personnel called her mom who was at work. She didn’t have transportation to check on the girl, so she called the police and asked officers to check.

When officers arrived, the document states the girl was too afraid to answer the door until her school resource officer came. When the officer arrived, she let police in to the apartment, and her first secret.

The girl told police that Thomas wouldn’t let her go to school that day because he claimed that she had dope on her. The document later goes on to explain that Thomas would often believe the girl and her mother were hiding methamphetamine from him.

When Thomas got back to the apartment, police searched the apartment and found evidence of meth use. As Thomas was on probation, he was arrested.

It was only then that the document states the girl found her voice. She told police and a family case manager about abuse to her and her mother. It was only later that day that she would tell a compassionate teacher that she was sexually abused.

Days later, in a child-friendly environment, the girl found the words for conduct she didn’t completely understand. The dam began to break, as the truth crept out from behind the wall of silence Thomas had built.

Government’s Sentencing Memorandum against Anthony Laquinn Thomas

During the forensic interview, the document said the girl disclosed what happened in that apartment above “paradise.” She described years of sexual abuse and acts of sexual exploitation. She also disclosed physical abuse and domestic violence against her mother by Thomas that made her too afraid to ever tell.

The document details that evidence, independent of the disclosure, shows Thomas sexually exploited the girl in March of that year. It happened after the girl’s mom left for work while she was on Spring Break.

Police found sexually-explicit photos that he took of her. The document states that the girl disclosed that Thomas also showed her pornographic images, telling her “I want you to do this next time.”

It wasn’t until 2021 that the girl was confronted with some of the images. The document states that while preparing to defeat Thomas’ possible defenses, they had to know if the child could make an identification, even of sanitized images.

She could do so, but it came at a terrible cost

Government’s Sentencing Memorandum against Anthony Laquinn Thomas

When the girl looked at the image, the document states she simply said “It’s me” before crying. When she asked if the photos would have to be shown in court, she said she wanted “this trauma to end” and didn’t want to be alive. The girl was taken to a hospital to talk to a trauma counselor.

The document states that Thomas didn’t have a collection of child sexual abuse material (CSAM) or evidence that he was searching specifically for it. The reality is, the document states, that he didn’t need it.

Unlike many collectors of CSAM or men in chat rooms who fantasize of having a child victim, Thomas actually had a child victim. And he had complete control over her.

Government’s Sentencing Memorandum against Anthony Laquinn Thomas

In June, Thomas finally pleaded guilty to the sexual exploitation of that girl. Along with the 30-year federal sentence, the Judge ordered that he pay the girl $10,000 in restitution and register as a sex offender wherever he lives, works or goes to school. He must also be supervised by the U.S. Probation Office for 10 years following his release.

As for the girl, she continues to walk the path to freedom that began the day Thomas left the apartment in handcuffs.