• 25 Investigates: Former teacher, scout leader at center of child porn investigation

    By: Eric Rasmussen

    Updated:

    BALDWINVILLE, Mass. - State Police, education inspectors, and the Worcester County District Attorney's Office are all investigating a man suspected of searching out and viewing images of naked boys in a home where his wife operated a licensed day care, according to state records obtained by 25 Investigates.

    A report by the Department of Children and Families, known as a 51A, reveals Massachusetts State Police and local detectives conducted a search warrant at the Baldwinville home of Thomas and Sandra Hill in August, after receiving a cyber tip from the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children that someone in the house had been searching for images of "nude young boys" and "naked boys."

    The DCF report says Thomas Hill Sr., 53, admitted to being the one responsible for the internet searches.

    The report also says "at the time of the search, the images found were consistent with Mr. Hill's admission," but Hill was not arrested or charged.

    In another state report viewed by 25 Investigates, a detective told social workers that "simply viewing child pornography does not constitute possession" and that "there did not appear to be any downloads."

    According to that same report, Hill offered little explanation for the searches, telling investigators, "I just got curious and that's that."

    25 Investigates contacted Hill's wife who ran the in-home daycare. She declined an on camera interview, but said she is no longer operating the day care.

    The Department of Early Education and Care says Hill's license to operate a day care is "inactive" pending the outcome of the state's investigation.

    More troubling to some child advocates is that Thomas Hill Sr. was also identified as a "pack leader" with the Boy Scouts, as well as a "CCD teacher" in church, and a teacher of children with special needs at the Devereux school in Rutland.

    Devereux says Hill is no longer employed there. Executive Director Kerry Ann Goldsmith emailed 25 Investigates the following statement:

    “The safety and wellbeing of the students in our care is our highest priority. Nothing is more important than providing a compassionate, effective and safe educational and therapeutic environment in which they can heal and grow. 

    I can confirm that Tom Hill is no longer an employee of our organization. I can also confirm that we are partnered closely with the state police in their investigation and we are grateful to know that, to this point, there is no evidence to suggest any of our students were impacted in any way related to this situation. Our thanks go to the State Troopers for their outstanding and very supportive efforts.”

    The head of the Nashua Valley Council of the Boy Scouts says Hill submitted a resignation letter on Aug. 20, but made no mention of any allegations against him. 

    So far, the organization says it hasn't been contacted by investigators.

    "We take this stuff very seriously," said Executive Director Gary Savignano. "But at this point, nobody's reached out. I'm just hoping this didn't involve any of our scouts."

    According to state records, Thomas Hill Sr. denied having any inappropriate contact with children, but advocates for the protection of children say the case is an opportunity for all organizations to re-examine what they're doing to prevent any possible abuse.

    Jetta Bernier is the executive director of MassKids and is spearheading a multi-state campaign called "Enough Abuse" which educates parents and professionals about how to prevent child sex abuse.

    "Like a moth who is attracted to a back porch light, those who have a sexual interest in children are obviously looking for opportunities to have access to those children," said Bernier. "Maybe this was a private behavior in a person's home, but it's an opportunity for us to say, 'well, wait a minute here -- what if something did happen? What can we do to prevent it?'"

    DCF confirmed to 25 Investigates that it investigated a report involving Hill, but did not say whether parents of the children who attended the in-home day care were immediately notified.

    State police and the DA's office declined comment, citing "ongoing" investigations.

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