A Durango man who used the Internet to lure teenage boys for sexual encounters was sentenced Thursday to six years in
prison and 10 years to life on parole.
Tom Helm, 60, broke down crying while apologizing for his actions. Much of his prepared speech sounded muffled in the
courtroom gallery. His wife and a handful of friends attended the sentencing hearing held in 6th Judicial District
Court in La Plata County.
Helm accepted full responsibility for his behavior and touted his volunteerism, church service and clean criminal
I am sincerely sorry for what I have done," he said. I am aware that I need treatment."
Helm was arrested July 22, 2009, when he showed up at Greenmount Cemetery expecting to meet a 14-year-old boy for
sexual activity. Instead, law enforcement was there to arrest him.
In interviews with authorities, Helm admitted to having sexual conversations with several underage boys on the
Internet. He met some for sexual encounters, but it is unknown if they were of legal age.
The Durango Police Department continues to investigate the case. But it is difficult to identify victims, because not
everyone uses a real age on social networking sites. A forensic examination of his computer is expected to reveal
In identifying Helm as a sexual predator, Durango Police Department Investigator Cindi Clay posed as an underage boy
on a social networking site.
Helm asked the boy" his age, and when the boy" responded 14, Helm replied, keep this a secret."
Within seven lines of correspondence, Helm asked the boy's sexual preferences. Within a couple of days, he arranged
to meet the boy. He told the boy to be clean and listed sexual activities they would engage in.
Of course u r scared," Helm wrote in one exchange. That is why we can first start with teaching you good sexy ways
to french kiss, making out ..."
Helm showed up at Greenmont Cemetery with condoms, chocolate syrup, a half valium and two chilled cans of Schlitz
Clay called the case extremely disturbing."
I don't believe this is a one-time isolated incident," she said.
Helm pleaded guilty to contributing to the delinquency of a minor and enticement of a child in a plea agreement with
the 6th Judicial District Attorney's Office.
The plea agreement called for six years prison and 10 years to life on parole. District Judge Jeffrey Wilson accepted
the plea agreement.
The Rev. John Knutson, of Christ the King Lutheran Church, where Helm was a member, said Helm is a good man with an
addiction." Knutson has visited Helm in jail on at least 12 occasions, about two hours each time.
He's deeply remorseful," Knutson said.
Assistant District Attorney Christian Champagne encouraged any victims to come forward if they have had sexual
encounters of any kind involving Helm.
Our biggest concern is there are other victims out there who are too embarrassed to come forward or too scared to
come forward," he said.