Iowa student exchange coordinator sentenced to jail

A Council Bluffs man will spend more than 27 years in federal prison after being convicted of coercing and seducing a minor on Thursday.

Thomas Boatright, 52, pleaded guilty in February to four counts of coercion and incitement of a minor. He was sentenced Thursday to 327 months on each count, to serve simultaneously, as well as to pay nearly $ 80,000 in restitution.

Boatright was the coordinator for EF High School Exchange Year, where he connected international students with American host families and hosted teenagers in his own home. He was arrested in March 2020 after federal prosecutors said that between July 27, 2019 and February 13, 2020, he forced three children in the program to engage in sexual acts while producing pornography featuring in children’s scene.

A “playground for predators”: Sexual abuse case in Iowa shows flaws in protections for exchange students

Boatright was also originally charged with three counts of child sexual exploitation and one count of possession of child pornography.

According to court documents, Boatright admitted to having improper contact with four male students, giving them alcohol and prescription drugs and recording them when they used his bathroom between 2018 and 2020. He began treating his victims before they left their home countries, using social media. and messaging apps for engaging in conversations of a sexual nature.

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The case highlighted inadequate oversight of foreign exchange programs, advocates for victims of sexual abuse said. It is not known which state agencies oversee such programs in Iowa.

The case was investigated by the Council Bluffs Police Department, the Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force of the Iowa Criminal Investigations Division and the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

Des Moines Register reporter Philip Joens contributed reporting.

Isabella Rosario is a public security reporter for the Ames Tribune. She can be reached by email at [email protected] or on Twitter at @irosarioc.

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