Investigators obtained a search warrant for a Victoria child advocacy center more than a year after an Arlington man reported its director had tried to blackmail him.
“The suspect threatened to expose the victim’s photos and tell his family he is gay if he did not continue to communicate with him,” according to court documents. “The victim’s parents do not know he is gay and was very afraid the suspect would send the photos and tell his family (he is) gay.”
More than a year and three months after receiving an outcry from the Arlington man, authorities executed a search warrant for digital devices and records belonging to former executive director Ric Dale Tinney Jr., 63, at the Hope Child Advocacy Center, 1801 N. Laurent St.
The Victoria Advocate does not identify people who may be victims of sex crimes.
Phone calls and messages sent to Tinney have gone unanswered.
On Sept. 12, Tinney was arrested on warrants at his Goliad home by the U.S. Marshals Service. He is charged with two felonies – publishing or threatening to publish intimate visual material and online impersonation in the form of using a name or persona to create a web page.
Tinney, who has no other criminal history, was released in lieu of bonds totaling $6,500.
It’s unclear exactly when Tinney resigned from his position as executive director. He had served in that position since 2013.
Questions sent on Thursday to Police Chief J.J. Craig, who serves as president of the center’s board of directors, remained unanswered, but police representatives said he was working to respond.
After Tinney’s resignation, Megan Burow, a lead forensic interviewer there, was appointed as interim executive director, Craig said Wednesday night.
In addition to providing therapy for children, the center conducts forensic interviews for children suspected to be the victims of abuse.
Victoria County Chief Deputy Roy Boyd said his office will continue to use the center’s services despite Tinney’s arrest.
“The (Hope Child Advocacy Center) is an important part of ensuring that justice is provided to children who are victims of criminal acts,” he said Thursday in a written statement. “The recent unfortunate event has no bearing on our use of their service to the children in our region.”
According to court documents, Tinney used a variety of screen names on the dating website adam4adam.com to hide his identity and threaten a man with whom he had once had a romantic relationship with.
The Arlington man told investigators that he suspected Tinney became jealous or upset when he did not respond to Tinney’s messages.
“(Tinney) told the victim he had collected about 15 or more photos of the victim due to the victim sharing intimate material. (Tinney) threatened the victim by mailing the nude photos to his family and disclosing that the victim is gay,” according to court documents. “Other statements included that he would drive ... ‘just to see their faces’ and asked the victim ‘this isn’t how you ever thought mom and dad would find out? lol.’”
As early as March 28, 2018, the Arlington man began communicating on the dating site with a person using the screen name “Bbbrady.”
At one point during their online conversations, Bbbrady threatened to publish 15 or more intimate photos of the Arlington man.
“The user profile Bbbrady agreed not to disclose the material to obtain a benefit by stating, ‘You live up to my expectations and I won’t mail.’ The suspect described in great detail how he wanted to be sexually gratified by the victim,” according to court documents.
The Arlington man told investigators that he had previously shared “intimate visual material” on the dating website.
When the Arlington man reported the harassment and attempted blackmail to adam4adam.com moderators, the website suspended that account, according to court documents.
Nevertheless, the messages continued, and the man began receiving more harassing and threatening messages from similar screen names that he suspected were the same person, court documents state.
During those communications, the Arlington man confided in Tinney about the blackmail, according to court documents.
Tinney also acted as a go-between for the Arlington man, passing on messages to him sent from various users now suspected to belong to Tinney, according to court documents.
But Tinney was unable to produce those messages to investigators.
“Tinney would relay to the victim that the suspect ... was watching him,” the court documents state.
By late May 2018, the Arlington man began to suspect Tinney was the person behind the threatening messages.
Those suspicions were confirmed by investigators.
Through court orders and subpoenas, investigators traced email addresses and screen names used to harass the Arlington man to Tinney, according to court documents. An email address used by the person harassing the Arlington man was traced to the Hope Child Advocacy Center in Victoria.
“The victim does not have friends or other associations with anyone in Victoria or this place of business other than Richard Tinney,” court documents state.
Investigators also determined Tinney had used the same computer for the past six years.
Arlington investigators said in court documents that they think forensic experts should be able to recover digital evidence from that computer despite “manipulation by any person.”
A search warrant return detailing the items seized was unavailable from the Victoria County District Clerk’s Office.
“(The investigator) believes that Tinney created those fictitious accounts and threatened to disclose the victim’s intimate visual material to obtain a benefit,” according to court documents.