Tacoma businessman busted in child-sex sting

by: Deborah Horne Updated:

TACOMA, Wash. - The president of the engineering firm Tacoma AHBL was arrested Friday, accused of trying to solicit a teenager for sex.

Thomas Royal Hicks, 47, came to the attention of the police last month when he posted an ad on Craigslist regarding 'collecting virgins.'

Everett police created an email account for a fictitious 15-year-old girl who described herself as a virgin. In one email, Hicks allegedly wrote, "I would love to make it real good for you... taking my time... making sure you thoroughly enjoy yourself."

The teenager was actually an undercover police officer. Court documents said Hicks and the officer exchanged photographs (the police sent photos of an officer when she was 12 or 13 years old) and set up a meeting.

When Hicks arrived at the Everett apartment last Friday afternoon, he was arrested. He admitted he sent the emails from his office in Tacoma's historic Old Town.

Hick's biography identifies him as a principal in AHBL's 'structural division' with 20 years' experience designing federal and state structures. He is considered an expert on military design standards.

KIRO 7 went to his office where Hicks is listed as president. Neighbors in his Maple Valley neighborhood declined to talk on camera about Hicks. But they described him as a 'wonderful neighbor' and president of the Maple Ridge Homeowners Association. His wife declined to talk about the allegations.

Hicks' bail was set at $20,000. One condition of his release is that his wife must supervise any contact he has with his twin children, an 8-year-old boy and girl.