Judge will review Cuyahoga Falls man's 'child bride' case

By Stephanie Ujhelyi The (Alliance) Review Published:

An Alliance Municipal Court judge will decide Friday if there is enough evidence of a Cuyahoga Falls man's attempted purchase of a child bride to send the case to Canton.

Judge Andrew L. Zumbar arraigned Robert W. Thomas Jr., 36, on charges of trafficking in persons, a first-degree felony; attempted kidnapping, a second-degree felony; attempted rape, a third-degree felony; and possessing criminal tools, a fifth-degree felony.

Thomas remains in Stark County Jail in lieu of $2 million cash or surety bond after being arrested the afternoon of Jan. 11 by Alliance police during his anticipated first date.

According to the supplemental narrative accompanying the arrest report, Thomas placed an ad on an online site looking for parents who would agree to arrange a marriage of their daughter.

An undercover officer responded to the ad, posing as an individual who could sell the suspect a child.

Thomas allegedly requested a child in the 5 to 8 age range and inquired about the cost for the child, before agreeing to pay $400 for the child, so "he could keep her and use her for sexual purposes," according to the report.

After a series of communications with the officer, whom Thomas believed could secure and sell him a child, Thomas agreed to meet the officer in the 2300 block of West State Street. After agreeing to pay $400 in cash for possession of the child, Thomas allegedly went to the vehicle with the officer to obtain the child and was taken into custody.

He offered no plea on Monday via video technology, but he will be represented by the Stark County public defender.

The case has garnered a lot of regional and national interest with numerous television crews showing up for the video arraignment and to conduct interviews with law enforcement officers involved in the case.

If convicted of all crimes as charged, Thomas faces up to 24 years in prison and $47,500 in fines.

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