Thomas Nelson, summer jobs program supervisor pleads guilty to sexual abuse of teen in program

A supervisor for the D.C. Summer Youth Jobs Program pleaded guilty Wednesday to charges from sexual advances he made toward a teenager who was participating in the program, U.S. Attorney Ronald C. Machen Jr. announced.

Thomas Nelson, 54, of Washington, D.C., pleaded guilty to second-degree sexual abuse of a minor in a significant relationship. Shortly after the incident became public, it was revealed that Nelson had previously been jailed for 20 years for violent crimes.

According to court documents, he made lewd comments to a 17-year-old girl he was supervising, touched her inappropriately and exposed himself in front of her. D.C. officials including Mayor Vincent Gray had previously said Nelson was not a supervisor, but a file clerk.

Nelson touched teen, exposed himself

On June 29, Nelson asked the victim to come to an upper-level floor for a task. He walked her through several empty, unlit rooms, making sexual advances and lewd comments.

In the police report, the girl said he grabbed her behind and made sexually graphic statements including being willing to pay her money.

He later sent all the youths on their lunch break, except for the victim. He told the girl that he had to show her something on a computer in the back of his office. There, he made more lewd remarks, touched her buttocks and thigh. He undid his pants and exposed himself.

When another teenager came into the office, Nelson pretended to be working on the computer, which was in a cubicle partly hidden from view. The victim left for lunch.

She later received a text message from Nelson that stated, “this stays between you and me.” The victim told her mother and they reported the incident to police. Nelson was arrested and has been in custody since.

Jailed for 20 years

Nelson was previously jailed for 20 years from 1988 until 2008 for armed robbery and assault on a police officer.

However, Nelson did not lie on his application, Lisa Mallory, director of D.C. employment services, said shorty after the allegations from the summer jobs program became public. The application only asks whether a person had been arrested in the previous 10 years. It did not ask whether he’d been incarcerated.

Nelson faces a penalty of up to three years and nine months in prison and a fine of up to $37,500. Nelson will also be required to register as a sex offender for 10 years. The Honorable William M. Jackson scheduled sentencing for October 21, 2011.

In a second case, a 19-year-old woman also working in the summer jobs program claimed a suspect approached her in a stairwell, grabbed her from behind and then penetrated her with his finger, all while she was telling him stop. The woman reported the incident the same day.