MCPS employee/coach charged with inappropriate touching & sexual exploitation of juvenile female

MONTGOMERY, CO – Special Victims Investigations Division (SVID) have arrested and charged Thomas Henry Ridges, age 38, of Beltsville, Maryland, with two counts of sexual abuse of a minor and a fourth-degree sexual offense related to his inappropriate touching of the juvenile female and his inappropriate sexual conversation with and proposition of the victim.

Ridges’ came into contact with the victim as his role as a Horizon Child Care, Inc. employee.  At the time of these offenses, Ridges was also a Montgomery County Public Schools (MCPS) paraeducator and a coach for Springbrook High School Boys Junior Varsity Basketball team.

On September 5, detectives received information regarding possible sexual abuse of a minor.  Investigators determined that on July 20, Ridges offered to drive the 16-year-old victim home from the Horizon facility in Silver Spring.  The victim accepted the ride.  Ridges did not drive toward the victim’s home.  He began to ask the victim if she remembered a time when she was 14 years old and was at a local pool as a camper at Horizon’s summer camp program.  Ridges told the victim that he had touched her in a private area and that it was purposeful.  The victim had previously believed the touching was accidental.

As Ridges continued driving around, he attempted to engage the victim in a sexual conversation and posed inappropriate questions to include asking her about her previous sexual encounters, asking her about drinking alcohol (as he parked in front of a liquor store), and asking her to send naked photographs of herself to him via cell phone.  Ridges also propositioned the victim to engage in sexual acts with him during the car ride.

On September 14, investigators obtained an arrest warrant for Ridges.  He was arrested on that day and transported to the Central Processing Unit. He has since been released on bond.

Detectives are requesting that parents of juveniles who attend Horizon Child Care, Inc. or who have had contact with Ridges to talk to their children about possible interactions with Ridges and contact SVID detectives at 240-773-5400 if they believe their child was victimized.