A 22-year-old Michigan man who complained of being unfairly persecuted for his sexual attraction to teenage girls was sentenced Thursday to life in prison for taking a 14-year-old Lubbock girl across state lines to sexually abuse her two years ago.
U.S. District Judge James Wesley Hendrix handed down the life sentence to Thomas Boukamp four months after he represented himself in a jury trial that resulted in his conviction for felonies of transportation of a minor with intent to engage in criminal sexual conduct, travel with intent to engage in illicit sexual conduct, enticement and attempted enticement of a minor, two counts of receipt of child pornography, cyber stalking and 11 counts of production and attempted production of child pornography.
After the trial, Lubbock attorney Michael King was appointed to represent Boukamp for the punishment phase of the case.
There is no parole in the federal justice system, which means Boukamp will spend the rest of his life in prison. However, in the event he is released from prison, Hendrix ordered he be placed on community supervision for life.
Hendrix also told Boukamp that he was denying his motion for a new trial.
Boukamp’s conviction came after a three-day trial during which prosecutors presented evidence that showed how he preyed on a Lubbock middle schooler by exploiting her emotional and mental health issues to send him explicit videos and ultimately run away with him to Michigan in November 2020, where he raped her.
In order to hide her appearance, Boukamp pulled the girl’s braces off with a pair of pliers.
The girl’s Nov. 13, 2020 disappearance was initially investigated as a missing person’s case. However, the nature of the investigation shifted when police believed she was in danger after they discovered messages between her and Boukamp.
Federal judges are usually provided a sentencing guideline range that helps them formulate a sentence. In Boukamp’s case a pre-sentencing report, which factors in a defendant’s criminal history, the nature of the offenses and other bad acts, recommended a life sentence for Boukamp.
Hendrix told Boukamp that he typically sees signs of remorse, however slightly, from defendants before him after they’ve pleaded guilty or were convicted by a jury. He said he saw none in Boukamp at Thursday’s hearing.
“Because there is no sign of acceptance, I have to consider the dangerousness you pose to other people,” he said. “And it’s a significant one. It’s a very, very significant one.”
Boukamp addressed the court saying he was full of hatred for his conviction. He wept as he said he never meant to hurt the girl and was still in love with her despite everyone telling him that it was wrong. He said he believed she loved and accepted him despite being “filled with violent sexual fantasies all the time.”
Prosecutors also provided additional evidence that showed Boukamp unsuccessfully tried to send his elder brother a letter with a detailed plan to help him escape from the Bailey County Detention Center, where he was being held after his trial.
Prosecutor Callie Woolam argued to the court that the letter further demonstrates Boukamp’s willful disregard for the law.
Boukamp’s father and elder siblings addressed the court and offered their sympathy toward the victim and her family, who were not at the hearing.
Boukamp’s family told the court they understood he needed to be punished for his actions but asked the court for leniency.
They described him as a loving and kind brother and son, who struggled to fit in because of undiagnosed autism. That struggle, they said, drove him to isolation and ultimately to the Internet, where he secretly developed a darkness that resulted in him seeking violent sexual relationships with teenage girls online.
They said they believed Boukamp will improve with proper treatment in federal prison and if he’s released will have their support to become a productive member of society.
King asked the court to consider his client’s age and minimal criminal history. Evidence at the trial showed Boukamp was 19 when he first encountered the victim, who was 13 at the time.
However, King said psychological experts showed that his client had the emotional maturity of a 7-year-old. He said his client’s undiagnosed autism didn’t excuse his actions and the damage he caused, but it did play a role in why his client was before the court.
King asked the court for a 30-year sentence, saying it would allow his client a chance of getting out prison, at which time he believed Boukamp would become a productive member of society.
“We ask that the court provide an opportunity for redemption,” he said.
Woolam said Boukamp’s unapologetic and continuing attraction to teenage girls and disdain for the law poses a risk to the community.
She said autism didn’t compel Boukamp’s attraction to teenage girls, the psychological torment he inflicted on the girl, or the sexual and physical abuse she suffered at his hands.
Woolam said the evidence showed that Boukamp preyed on multiple girls until he found the Lubbock girl, who lived in a dysfunctional home and was suffering from emotional distress.
“He targeted vulnerable children until he finally hooked on who didn’t flee on him,” she said.
She read a letter the victim’s father wrote about Boukamp’s impact on their family.
He wrote that his daughter, now 16, continues to struggle with the abuse she suffered from Boukamp, and will not open up to them about it.
“We still don’t fully know what happened to her and what she went through,” he wrote. “She was hurt, we know that but more than physically. Her childhood was ended too soon. He took that from her. She struggles with her self-esteem. I don’t know if she’ll ever be able to truly love herself again.”
He said his daughter still has trouble trusting people, including her parents.
“We know she will never be the same … She’ll never get her innocence back,” he said. “She can’t be a child after this.”
His younger children also struggle with the guilt when their sister disappeared for nine days.
Prosecutors also played to the court a jail phone conversation between Boukamp and his mother that was peppered with expletives as Boukamp complained about the laws that criminalized sexual relationships between adults and minors, comparing it to the prejudice against Black people and gay people.
“I like teenage girls! They don’t like that I like that,” he said. “I frankly don’t care what the morality of this current time and place says. It’s not wrong. There’s nothing wrong about it. And they’re not going to ever convince me of its wrongness. So up theirs. I hate this nation.”
Hendrix told Boukamp that the sentencing factors of protecting the community and promoting respect for the law weighed heavily on the life sentence he handed down.
He said the statements that blamed Boukamp’s actions on autism was incredibly offensive to the autism community.
“It absolutely does not explain what you did to [the girl],” he said.
Hendrix said the evidence also disputed Boukamp’s statement that his relationship with the girl was based on love.
“You like teenage girls – you said it out of your own mouth,” he said. “You don’t care what the law says. You are a dangerous pedophile who preys on others.”
King said after the hearing that he was disappointed with the judge’s sentence and plans to file an appeal within two weeks.
This article originally appeared on Lubbock Avalanche-Journal: Man sentenced to life in prison for sexually exploiting Lubbock teen
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