TAMPA — Trying to persuade a 13-year-old girl in Belize to have sex with him, Pasco County middle school teacher David Wendel Thompson used a tactic officials say is common among adults wanting to exploit impoverished children.
“But u need help,” he said in an online conversation last December. I want u to have a better life.”
Thompson, 49, has signed an agreement to plead guilty to a federal charge of online enticement of children, a charge which carries a maximum penalty of life behind bars. The hearing is scheduled Oct. 29.
According to his plea agreement, Thompson talked to two girls in Belize, one 13 and the other 15, using his own Facebook account and a phony account he set up in the name of Iris Levy, which was made to look like the profile of a teen-aged girl in Belize.
In February, the social studies teacher told the 13-year-old, “if u give yourself to dis man...he will neva forget dat and b there for as long as u want him,, Save it for him cause d man take care of u.”
When the girl said she was worried because she was only 13, Thompson wrote, “U promised I could be your first and I felt special...will you still let me?”
Two days later, according to his plea agreement, he wrote, “i will make sure u always have money...it hurts i want to do so much for u i need u to give back a little.’’
Belize is a “source destination” for sex trafficking and forced labor, according to a State Department report issued over the summer. “Child sex tourism involving primarily U.S. citizens is an emerging trend in Belize,” according to the report, which ranked the country more at risk than a similar report last year.
Authorities say destitute children are particularly vulnerable to exploitation for money their families desperately need.
Thompson came to the attention of Homeland Security Investigations earlier this year when Facebook security alerted investigators, according to court documents.
He was stopped during a layover in Miami on his way to Belize, but he told investigators he was only trying to meet women who were at least 18 years old. Agents who searched his bags found condoms and Cialis, a drug for erectile dysfunction.
It was his 10th trip to the country since June 2011. Thompson was allowed to fly to the country, but authorities in Belize prevented him from entering, and he was arrested when he returned to Miami.