A 21-year-old man was sentenced Friday to 14 years in prison for extorting an underage teenage friend into having sex with him multiple times in the Lake Forest area.
Thomas Lee McElroy pleaded guilty May 10 to five counts of rape and one count of forcible oral copulation. As part of the plea deal, one count each of forcible oral copulation, using an underage person for obscene matter and possession or control of child pornography were dismissed.
McElroy could have faced a life sentence if convicted of the original charges, which included burglary, said Deputy District Attorney Courtney Thom.
Orange County Superior Court Judge Kimberly Menninger ordered McElroy to register as a sex offender for the rest of his life.
McElroy was given credit for serving 984 days in jail while awaiting trial. He will have to do 85 percent of the sentence, Thom said.
The defendant was able to manipulate computer devices to send the victim, then 17, text messages threatening that “bad things would happen to her family” if she did not have sex with him, according to Deputy District Attorney Mena Guirguis, who filed the charges against McElroy in 2016.
McElroy sent himself similar text messages and showed them to the girl, saying he, too, was being extorted and harassed, the prosecutor said.
McElroy raped the teen four times and forced her to perform oral sex on him once over a two-month period in the spring of 2015, she said. The defendant also extorted money from the girl and had her perform sex acts that he videotaped, Guirguis said.
The defendant “knew intimate things about her family,” which made the threats more credible, and he used multiple phone numbers and personas to track the victim, according to the prosecutor.
The two had known each other for about a year at the time, but she was not interested in him romantically, Guirguis said. Eventually, she broke down and told family members, who alerted authorities.