BELLINGHAM - A convicted child molester who lured a single mother to his motel room with the promise of a data entry job has pleaded guilty to unlawful imprisonment.
Thomas Joseph Wood, 81, was sentenced Thursday, June 28, to a year and a day in prison for preventing the woman from leaving the motel room.
In April, a 22-year-old woman called police crying after getting out of Wood's room at the Coachman Inn on Samish Way. She told officers she had met Wood at a self-service laundry about a month before, and the two talked about her children, according to court documents. When he found out that she was a single mother trying to make ends meet, he offered her a part-time job doing data entry for his crop-dusting company.
Over the course of the next few weeks, they made arrangements to meet at the Samish Way McDonald's. When it came time to meet, Wood suggested the two meet in his room at the Coachman, and the woman reluctantly agreed. Once she was in his room, he asked her to put her hand on his leg, and when she refused he told her it broke his heart.
When she tried to talk about work, Wood closed the curtains, got on the bed and asked her to come lie down with him. She told him she was going to leave. He grabbed her and pulled her onto his lap. He fondled her breasts and rubbed her neck and legs, and he pulled her down again when she tried to get up. She finally got free and ran out the door.
Bellingham Police reviewed Wood's history and found several similar incidents of him approaching young women outside of the Department of Social and Health Services office in Bellingham and offering them data entry jobs. In April 2010, he offered a woman outside the office a job and gave her a ride home. In the car, he fondled her breast and put his hand down her pants before she told him to stop and got out of the car.
Wood was convicted of second-degree child molestation in 2002. After being let out on bail, he escaped to Spain for three months before being sent back to the United States and convicted.
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