WARNING: The following story contains graphic content not suitable for all readers
FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) – The accused walked into the Allen County Courthouse on Thursday wearing blue jeans, red sneakers and a gray T-shirt. He was accompanied by his grandmother.
Caleb Thompson, now 24, was 21 when he allegedly committed the crimes of promotion of child sex trafficking, promoting prostitution, corrupt business influence and intimidation.
Thursday, he was to be sentenced for his role in child sex trafficking that occurred between January 2019 and April 24, 2020.
But Thompson’s sentencing in Allen Superior Court was delayed until Sept. 22 in the hopes that an agreement with Marion County Community Corrections could be reached.
Thompson and his mother, Brooke Thompson, along with a man identified as Ridge M. Borne were all accused of playing a part in a scheme where they set up sexual encounters between a 16-year-old girl and a man only to blackmail the man afterward.
A plea deal where Caleb Thompson admitted to a count of corrupt business influence filed in December 2021 calls for him to be sentenced to six years in prison, but four of those years would be served behind bars and two years suspended.
The charges of promotion of child sexual trafficking, promoting prostitution and intimidation would be dropped.
Defendant’s grandmother hopes for community corrections in Marion County
His grandmother, Kelli Thompson, the one who accompanied him from Marion County where he lives now, said Caleb is epileptic and is disabled, and they are hoping he be will able to serve his sentence on home detention through Marion County Community Corrections.
However, Marion County turned him down, his attorney, Ryan Gardner, said.
Two related sentencing won’t be delayed
This delay will not affect Brooke Thompson’s sentencing Friday, nor will it affect 22-year-old Ridge Borne’s sentencing scheduled for Monday, Allen County Chief Counsel Tesa Helge said.
According to two probable cause affidavits which vary slightly, Brooke Thompson, Caleb Thompson and Borne extorted money from a man Brooke met online.
Caleb and Borne had been accused of transporting a 16-year-old girl selected by Brooke to meet-ups made online through the website skipthegames.com with various men. The men would pay to have sex with the girl, according to court documents.
One of the men who allegedly slept with the girl met with Brooke for massage encounters, court documents said. At least one of the massages culminated in a sexual favor.
Brooke then told the man she knew he slept with an underage girl and threatened that she’d put up fliers and contact his business associates and family if he did not pay her extra money, according to court documents. The legal age of consent in most cases in Indiana is 16-years-old.
All the sexual encounters and blackmail occurred between January 2019 and April 24, 2020 when the trio was initially arrested.
Defendant turned on his mother in order to take a plea
Thompson turned on his mother, Brooke, and took a plea deal in exchange for testifying, if needed, against her and Borne.
Both Caleb Thompson and Borne caved and took plea deals in November 2021, according to court documents. Brooke Thompson was held at the Allen County Jail but agreed to a plea deal in March. All other charges were dropped except for promoting prostitution and the executed portion of her sentence will be no greater than eight years in prison, according to court documents.
Trio threatened to blackmail client
The man who met Brooke for massages before she threatened to out him as having had sex with a minor happened to be a local businessman, according to court documents.
The man met Caleb Thompson at Kroger three or four times between April 3 and April 11, 2020 and first handed over about $3,000 and then $1,000 at the next couple of meetings.
Each payment “was preceded by threats to put up fliers in his neighborhood or contact his family and business about the allegations,” a probable cause affidavit said.
The man contacted Fort Wayne Police Department’s Vice & Narcotics unit and officers helped him send a text message to Caleb asking him how much money he needed to make the false allegations stop. Brooke responded for her son, first demanding $4,000, then $5,000 and then $6,000, court documents say.
Silence guaranteed for $5,000 and 40 edibles
The man set up a meeting at a McDonald’s restaurant on April 24, 2020, the same day the arrests were made.
Brooke sent a message to him.
According to court documents, this message read:
“OK here’s the deal. I guess her mother and her had written the statements and her mother is off work Monday (and wants) to take her downtown and speak to a detective and give him the written statement. So here’s the deal. I want $5,000 and 40 edibles.”
The edibles apparently alluded to the man’s stash of drugs.
Around 4 p.m. that day, Vice & Narcotics initiated a traffic stop at 7800 Bluffton Road. Borne was driving Brooke’s 2003 silver Buick Century. She was in the front passenger seat. According to the original probable cause, the car reeked of marijuana and more than 50 grams was found in bags.
Then the scheme to exploit the underage girl was revealed. Caleb and Ridge would take the girl to visit the clients and then demand money from them because she was underage. Caleb admitted that they “made approximately $350-$400 with this technique,” when the clients had sexual intercourse with her, court documents say.