Harry Thomas, 75, former pastor at the Come Alive New Testament Church in Medford, New Jersey who helped create the popular Creation music festivals, has been jailed for 18 years for sexually assaulting five young girls.
According to this report, Thomas also faced an outpouring of anger and contempt from his victims and their loved ones at his sentencing.
“I hate you,” said one victim, who detailed emotional torment in a statement read on her behalf.
Another called the pastor a “scumbag” and angrily snapped, “Harry Thomas, you surely will rot in hell.”
The father of one girl said of Thomas, a silver-haired grandfather:
This person is a ravenous wolf. He is one of the greatest hypocrites – a child molester masquerading as a pastor.
The prison term, which includes no parole eligibility, “could well be a death sentence,” Superior Court Jeanne Covert acknowledged at the two-hour hearing.
She said Thomas, named last year to a list of the nation’s 100 most influential evangelicals, would serve his term at the state’s Avenel facility for sex offenders.
A pre-sentencing assessment at Avenel found Thomas engaged in “repetitive, compulsive” sex offences despite feelings of guilt and shame, Assistant Burlington County Prosecutor Stephen Eife said in arguing for a 20-year sentence.
He’s the devil incarnate.
Thomas pleaded guilty in February to raping one girl and sexually assaulting three others between 1999 and November 2015. He pleaded guilty to endangering the welfare of a fifth girl.
The pastor targeted victims for repeated assaults between the ages of 5 and 12, “a time when little girls should be playing with dolls,” Eife said.
Up until the age of puberty, they were repeatedly touched.
The attacks ended when one of the girls came forward to her mother in November 2017, leading to Thomas’ arrest in December.
Eife said the girls and their relatives are:
Suffering tremendously. The amount of hurt, the amount of confusion, the amount of sadness, the anger, it’s really unbelievable.
Said the aunt of one girl:
What fools we all were. You used the fact that these kids loved you. You groomed them all and us, too.
Thomas offered a sobbing apology as those he had hurt looked on stonily.
I don’t understand why I did these things. I would never hurt them but I did.
The pastor’s attorney, Robin Lord said the pastor’s compulsive offences should be viewed as a disease. She also pointed to Thomas’ good deeds as a clergyman, including efforts to provide schools and health facilities for children in impoverished countries.
He has made life better for thousands of children around the world.
A Come Alive spokesman has said the charges against Thomas were not connected to the pastor’s role at the church or two related ministries – Creation Festivals, which promotes religious concerts, and Come Alive International, a missionary organisation.
An attorney representing the victims, Craig Hubert, described Thomas’ actions as “a horrific tragedy” that will persist through the victims’ lives.
Harry Thomas failed. He failed himself, he failed his family, he failed his community, which includes his church … and he failed his God. One has to be reminded that sometimes Satan comes as a man of peace.
According to this report, Thomas told the court:
I agree with the scriptures. It would be better for a millstone to be hung around my neck and be cast into the sea. That’s what I deserve.