Sunday, August 31 2014 3:28 PM EDT2014-08-31 19:28:29 GMT
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A former police office in Charlotte was sentenced to 36 months of probation after he admitted to taking photographs of underage teenage girls.
Thomas Allen was arrested in February after an investigation found he had photos of young girls that participated at various activities during two Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department High School Academy events in 2011 and 2013.
According to a CMPD document, Allen was the Internship Coordinator for the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Training Academy.
Allen pleaded guilty to the charges on Wednesday morning.
Allen's attorney said the former officer has accepted responsibility and already been punished by losing his career. He asked the judge to not put Allen on sexual offender registry.
Mother of one of the teens photographed by Allen asked for the opposite. She told the courtroom, "I don't want any other children abused this way."
The judge ruled that Allen would not be required to register as a sex offender.
His attorney said Allen has a pornography addiction, much like a drug addiction, and he is seeking help for it.
During an interview with police, Allen said the "pictures fueled his addiction" and "there's a good chance I could relapse."
Allen reportedly took more than 1,000 photos for a slideshow on the Explorer program and his attorney says four of those pictures were deemed inappropriate.
"I'm very sorry," Allen said in court to the judge and one of the victims. "I want to take full responsibility for this."
He said when he was kicked out of his house, he had to face his pornography addiction and couldn't deny it any longer.
Allen reportedly visits a counselor once a week and spent 90 days in a recovery program after he was arrested. He said it was the best thing he could do.
CMPD detectives arrested Thomas E. Allen in February, and charged him with four counts of secretly using a photographic imaging device to view another's body or undergarments and four counts of possessing photographic images in violation of the peeping statute.
Chief Rodney Monroe told WBTV that Allen took photos through the victims clothing during physical training that captured portions of their undergarments without their consent.
Monroe told WBTV that Allen took the photos with a 35 millimeter camera.
"We're talking about physical activities where people were wearing loose-fitting clothes," Monroe told WBTV.
Monroe said the high school students were doing things like sit-ups and push-ups when photographed.
"He committed these offenses in the presence of other people," Monroe said. "So it was not based on him being alone with anyone. It was just based on his unlawful sneaky ways in trying to capture these photographs."
Monroe said the investigation started after some type of internal conversation with Allen - none of the girls came forward.
"No, and to our knowledge," Monroe said, "they had no knowledge of the activity that he was engaged in until we approached them."
Allen was fired shortly after the arrest. He was hired by the CMPD on March 27, 1996, and was last assigned to the Recruiting Division of the Police Training Academy.
Police officials say eleven full-time detectives were assigned to the case during the investigation. Investigators went through several thousand photographs on Allen's home and work computers.
The juvenile victims were fully clothed at the time they were photographed, investigators say. So far, there has been no evidence of any child pornography on the computers examined.
In February, CMPD detectives were working to interview the approximately 700 people who participated in youth programs that Allen was directly associated with during his career.