An educator from Winona, Minn., has been charged with having sex with young boys for many years while teaching in various African nations, often showering with his victims and taking photos of them naked.
Thomas R. Page, 50, was charged Tuesday in federal court in St. Paul with illicit sexual conduct while overseas. Page was arrested the same day at the Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport in Atlanta and appeared in federal court in Georgia in the afternoon.
In one interview with U.S. investigators in 2012, Page at first denied the allegations and then admitted to having sex with two boys in Cameroon, the charging document read.
Page's mother, Anne, said Wednesday that she saw her son over the weekend in Winona and that he left Minnesota on Tuesday for a trip to the Cayman Islands with her sister. Anne Page was unaware of her son's troubles and declined to say anything more, other than that he was born and raised in Winona.
According to the criminal complaint:
For the past 25 years, Page has taught and resided for extended periods in Cameroon, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Burkina Faso, Mali, Sudan and Togo. He taught science and math in schools that catered to Western students. He'd return to Winona for summer break and vacations.
From 2007 to 2011, he taught at the American School of Yaoundé in Cameroon and then in 2011-12 at the British School Lome in Togo. It was in June 2012 that U.S. Homeland Security began investigating Page and learned that he was charged in Cameroon with sexually assaulting boys while teaching there.
In July 2012, Page was arrested in Lome, Togo, on suspicion of abusing boys. Homeland Security agents interviewed him at the police station, and he initially denied all allegations.
He said he knew kids from the beach and some would visit his house, sometimes staying overnight. He said he'd swim with them and have the boys sit on his lap. He added that he would buy the boys food, and give them money for taxi rides home and once paid a boy's school fees.
When Homeland Security agents mentioned charges against him in Cameroon, Page admitted to having oral sex with two boys. He said he gave money to one boy and to the other boy's mother.
Homeland Security agents met a 14-year-old boy in Cameroon in September 2012. He said he first met Page at a bar. He went with him to Page's home, where he and other boys showered with him. Page took photos of the boys naked. The 14-year-old also said he saw Page and another boy exchange oral sex on about 10 occasions.
The teen said he and Page had sex on at least two occasions, including when he was 12.
In July 2015, Homeland Security agents interviewed victims in Cameroon. One said Page give the boys drinks, forced them to watch pornography and caressed them. The boy said Page sexually assaulted him from when he was 13 or 14 years old until he was 16. Another boy said Page abused him when he was 11 or 12. He said Page was still sending him money for clothes and communicating with him via Facebook.
Another victim said Page would put a "liquid" in another boy's food to make that boy sleepy, then order everyone out of the room.
Requests for sex from Page often accompanied promises of money for school (education is not free in Cameroon) and a trip to the United States.