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      Online chats lead to sexual abuse charges against New Philadelphia man

      Dennis Thomas, of New Philadelphia

      A New Philadelphia man is behind bars Wednesday after police say he met a female juvenile online and later sexually abused her on a number of occasions according to police.

      McDonough County Sheriff Rick VanBrooker says his detectives arrested Dennis M. Thomas Jr., 25, on April 30.

      Thomas is charged with five counts of aggravated criminal sexual abuse, solicitation to meet a child and prohibited sales and possession of alcohol.

      The arrest was based on an investigation into an illegal relationship Thomas had with a 16-year-old juvenile female. This investigation revealed that Thomas had began an illegal relationship with the juvenile via internet solicitation. Thomas furthered the relationship and engaged in illegal sexual conduct with the juvenile on at least five occasions according to police and he also provided the juvenile with alcoholic beverages on these occasions.

      Thomas is lodged in the McDonough County Jail awaiting his first court appearance.