Tomahawk man facing three felonies related to child sex crimes

By Jalen Maki

Tomahawk Leader Editor

LINCOLN COUNTY – A Tomahawk man has been charged with three felonies related to child sex crimes.

Thomas L. Welke, 70, faces felony counts of using a computer to facilitate a child sex crime, attempted second degree sexual assault of a child and child enticement-sexual contact, according to court records.

According to a criminal complaint filed in Lincoln County court on Monday, June 17, which cites reports from the Tomahawk Police Department (TPD), TPD received information regarding the attempted solicitation of a minor on Wednesday, June 12.

Welke. Photo courtesy of the Lincoln County Jail.

Welke was identified as the alleged perpetrator by two individuals whose names were not provided in the complaint.

The complaint said the individuals are “the proprietors of multiple social media accounts with the primary purpose of exposing online sexual predators and illegal sexual activity.”

The individuals allegedly provided TPD with numerous voice recordings, screenshots and text messages that showed Welke believed he was communicating with a 13-year-old female. Welke attempted to meet the child in the parking lot of Dollar General in Tomahawk on Tuesday, June 11, where he was confronted by the individuals, according to the complaint.

The complaint said the roughly five-and-a-half-minute encounter was video recorded by the individuals, who informed Welke that over the course of a year, they had been documenting the conversations between Welke and who Welke believed was a 13-year-old female.

While speaking with the individuals, Welke allegedly admitted to having the conversations before saying he was going to TPD. Welke could be observed traveling east on E. Somo Ave. in the opposite direction of the TPD, and the recording ended shortly thereafter, according to the complaint.

The complaint included more than a dozen text messages allegedly sent by Welke, with several messages containing sexually explicit language and referring to the child’s age. Welke allegedly asked the child if she had “written and signed authorization” to see Welke and asked if the child’s mother would be interested in joining Welke and the child “for her own added please (sic) and show you a few things,” according to the complaint.

Welke was taken into custody on Friday, June 14.

Welke appeared in Lincoln County court on Monday, June 17, where a $15,000.00 cash bond was set. Under terms of the bond, Welke was instructed to have no contact with anyone under the age of 18, not to use the internet to contact any minors or people unknown to him and not to leave the state of Wisconsin without prior court approval. Welke was also directed to surrender all passports and not to obtain any new passports, according to court records.

Welke is scheduled to participate in a telephone scheduling conference on Thursday, June 27 at 10 a.m.

If convicted on all three charges, Welke faces up to 105 years in prison and up to $300,000.00 in fines.

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