A St. Amant man who was out on $126,000 bail for child pornography and other charges was arrested again Thursday, the fourth time in a year and a half, after authorities found he had exchanged sexually oriented messages with a 13-year-old boy in Tennessee and had a photo of a naked young girl on his electronic devices.
Todd Eric Tripp, a former Ascension Parish sheriff’s deputy, was communicating with the 13-year-old from Germantown, Tennessee, through social media and had been discussing the possibility of traveling to Tennessee to visit the boy, though the trip never happened, Ascension Parish sheriff’s deputies said in a news release Friday.
In 2013, Tripp, 26, was arrested three times on charges of indecent behavior with a juvenile, 306 counts of possession of child pornography, computer-aided solicitation of a minor and carnal knowledge of a juvenile, deputies said. Those counts are pending, court filings show.
Court records show those counts mounted against Tripp as sheriff’s investigators continued their probe following his initial arrest on Sept. 10, 2013. Sheriff’s deputies ended up subsequently arresting Tripp again on Oct. 8 and Nov. 7, 2013.
After each time, records show, Tripp was able to post the legal bail amount and be released from jail, records show.
Lt. Col. Bobby Webre, sheriff’s chief of criminal operations, said Friday that Tripp had been out on bail before his arrest Thursday in connection with the Germantown, Tennessee, investigation.
Tripp, 10513 Maranatha Acres, St. Amant, was then booked into Ascension Parish Prison near Donaldsonville on counts of possession of pornography involving a juvenile and computer-aided solicitation of a minor.
Tripp is scheduled for a bail hearing on Tuesday, deputies said, but prosecutors said midday Friday that they would seek to revoke Tripp’s bail after filing the necessary motion earlier the same day.
“These charges are being taken seriously, and the District Attorney’s Office will be prosecuting this case to the fullest extent of the law,” office spokeswoman Charlotte Guedry said in a statement midday Friday.
Tripp, who had worked for the Sheriff’s Office for a year and a half mostly in the jail, had only a traffic citation in Ascension prior to his September 2013 arrest. He was fired the same day he was arrested the first time, deputies have said.
Deputies said people with arrest records are not hired at the Sheriff’s Office.
Sheriff’s deputies first arrested Tripp, who previously lived in Gonzales, after they received a tip about Tripp’s relationship with a 15-year-old. They learned he had exchanged inappropriate pictures and text messages with the teenager.
Seized electronic equipment from the September 2013 arrest turned up files that led to his arrest on 304 child pornography counts, deputies have said.
Tripp was arrested a third time on Nov. 7, 2013, after detectives also learned he had sexual contact with a 16-year-old, deputies said then.
In the most recent case, sheriff’s detectives received information from the Germantown Police Department that officers there were investigating Tripp over his contacts and comments to the 13-year-old boy, deputies said.
Sheriff’s detectives searched his home March 16 based on the Germantown police probe and seized all of Tripp’s computers, digital media and cellphones, Webre said.
An analysis of the equipment turned up the nude photo of the female juvenile and confirmed Tripp was communicating with the 13-year-old boy and laid out Tripp’s plans to visit the boy, according to the Sheriff’s Office.
A variety of motions have been set for April 20 at 9 a.m. on Tripp’s past charges before 23rd Judicial District Judge Jesse LeBlanc in Gonzales, court filings say.
Follow David J. Mitchell on Twitter @NewsieDave.