Man charged with child rape in Rhea County after being found, arrested in Indiana

Contributed Photo by Rhea County Sheriff’s Office / Adam Dewayne Thomas, 46, of Dayton, Tenn.

Rhea County authorities are holding a local man on a $1 million bond after charging him with sex crimes involving a child under age 13 after the suspect allegedly fled the state to Indiana to avoid charges contained in an indictment.

Adam Dewayne Thomas, 46, who had identification showing him to be a resident of Dayton, Tennessee, is charged with three counts of rape of a child stemming from allegations of abuse going back to the spring of 2021, according to Rhea County Sheriff's Office Investigator Rocky Potter. Each charge carries a possible sentence of 15 to 60 years in prison and a fine up to $50,000 under Tennessee law.

"The abuse started in May 2021," Potter said Tuesday in a phone interview.

The investigation began in Dayton after the alleged victim told a family member what happened, Potter said.

Thomas is believed to have gained access to the alleged victim through a relationship he had with a family member of hers, the detective said.

In an interview at the local child advocacy center, the girl gave a statement detailing at least three sexual assaults, Potter said.

(READ MORE: Rhea man booked on 22-count indictment in child sex abuse probe)

"During that time frame of May through December, he had actually worked out a plea on six other various crimes and was out on bond for those," Potter said. "When he heard of these indictments coming down, he took off to Indiana. He was living in a small town there."

Rhea County authorities were told by an Indiana resident that Thomas was working in a mill in the town, so Potter sent a booking photo of Thomas to Indiana State Police. Police spoke to a local woman who recognized Thomas by his tattoos and told them of his work schedule at the mill.

(READ MORE: Rhea County executive pleads guilty, resigns post in federal wire fraud case)

Indiana State Police arrested Thomas at the mill and held him on Rhea County's indictment until he was returned to Tennessee on Friday to face charges, according to authorities.

Thomas was also booked on charges of failing to appear on his previous charges and violation of the conditions of his bond, according to jail records and court officials.

Thomas now faces an arraignment Friday on the rape charges. The past charges Thomas failed to appear for in court include evading arrest, felony evading arrest, reckless endangerment, resisting arrest, simple possession, possession of drug paraphernalia and driving on a revoked license, court officials said Wednesday.

Thomas does not have a lawyer on record, court officials said.

Contact Ben Benton at or 423-757-6569. Follow him on Twitter @BenBenton.