Former Ascension Parish sheriff deputy re-arrested on child porn charges _lowres

Todd Tripp

GONZALES — A Sorrento man and registered sex offender on the run amid accusations of soliciting and having sex with a juvenile boy in Louisiana was found and arrested in South Carolina, Ascension Parish sheriff's deputies said Tuesday.

Todd Eric Tripp, 31, a former Ascension sheriff's deputy who was fired seven years ago, has been on probation following his release from state prison in 2019 for convictions of attempted child pornography possession and indecent behavior with a juvenile.

South Carolina deputies found Tripp shortly after midnight Tuesday in York County, and he is expected to be transported back to Ascension at a later date to face new counts, sheriff's deputies said in a statement. 

It wasn't immediately clear what led Tripp to the South Carolina county, which is a suburban area on the southwestern fringes of Charlotte, North Carolina, or how deputies in that state had found him.

Tripp is wanted in Ascension on three counts carnal knowledge of a juvenile, computer-aided solicitation of a minor, and unlawful use or access of social media over allegations tied to his solicitation of a teenage boy in another parish, deputies said.

Deputies announced on Thursday that they were looking for Tripp after the new allegations had emerged about him two days earlier.

Between 2013 and 2015, Tripp had been arrested multiple times over repeated accusations of child pornography possession, computer-aided solicitation of juvenile, carnal knowledge of juvenile and other related allegations.

Tripp was a former Ascension sheriff's corrections deputy for a year and a half but was fired from the Sheriff's Office after his initial arrest in September 2013.

As new arrests followed and more counts mounted, his defense attorney had argued for a time that his client was not guilty by reason insanity due to post-traumatic stress disorder. But Tripp ended up pleading guilty in December 2017 to reduced charges. He was released from state prison in March 2019 with five years probation and a requirement to register as a sex offender.

In the latest incident, Ascension deputies said Tripp met the 16-year male through a social media dating site.

Tripp used a false name and began actively engaging with the juvenile online. Tripp met with the 16-year-old at least three times and engaged in sexual activity with him, deputies said.

In March 2015, Tripp was out on bail from his earlier counts and had been accused of contacting a 13-year-old juvenile male from Germantown, Tennessee, and exchanging sexual comments with him. Detectives later found a nude photograph of the youth in Tripp's home.

At the time, deputies said Tripp had been discussing the possibility of traveling to visit the boy, though that never happened. The discovery and subsequent arrest led the revocation of his bail at the time.

In his 2017 plea agreement, Tripp acknowledged that he sent "lewd and lascivious text messages" to the teen and that sheriff's detectives found child pornography images in his home in September 2013.

With the new allegations that emerged last week, Tripp may face significant jail time under the terms of his old plea if his probation is revoked once he returns to Louisiana.

Under prosecutors' recommendations, Tripp's sentence amounted to four years in prison after suspensions and other steps. But his full sentence under the plea is 84 years. At the time of his sentence, Tripp had already spent 2½ years in prison.

Part of the old sentence's recommendation is that Tripp have no internet or social media use outside work.

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