A Morgan County man is facing federal child pornography charges after authorities rescued a baby girl in his care. Authorities say he sexually abused the child, recorded it, and shared the images over the internet.
According to Knoxville Police, Tommy Lee Waugh, 29, of Wartburg, pleaded guilty in federal court Thursday morning to production of child pornography, distribution, and a Sorna violation because he is already a convicted sex offender.
KPD’s Internet Crimes Unit got a tip in July that Waugh was sexually abusing the 5-6 week infant. The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children issued a Priority 1 cyber tip that means there is an eminent threat to a child.
“It’s horrific. I can’t even describe it,” said Lt. Warren Hamlin of KPD’s Internet Crimes Against Children unit.
KPD says when they saw the images, they knew they had to rescue the child as soon as possible to prevent any more abuse.
“This was probably newborn a victim as I’ve seen,” said Lt. Hamlin, “Knowing that she was out there close to us really gives you a sense of urgency.”
Within 24 hours, KPD and other agencies rescued the child and took her to East Tennessee Children’s Hospital. The parent’s rights were terminated, and the girl was placed in foster care and is doing well.
KPD spokesperson, Darrell DeBusk, said, “It took many people moving quickly and cautiously to save the child’s life.”
Waugh originally pleaded not guilty to these charges, but changed his plea this week. The recommended sentence is 40 years behind bars. A judge will determine his sentence on April 9.
According to TBI’s Sexual Offender Registry, Waugh was convicted in 2010 on aggravated statutory rape charges, and in 2009 on sexual exploitation of a minor.
From January 2012 to Sept 2013, KPD’s ICAC unit investigated 139 cases leading to 53 arrests.