MEDFORD TOWNSHIP, N.J. (CBS) – A pastor at a Medford Township church has been charged with sexually assaulting four minors for more than a decade.
Authorities arrested 74-year-old Harry L. Thomas on Wednesday morning.
The Burlington County Prosecutor’s Office says the assaults happened in Medford Township between 1999 and 2015.
Thomas is the pastor at Come Alive Church in Medford Township. He also is the co-founder of the Creation Festival, which is the nation’s largest Christian music festival.
“It’s a complete outrage,” said Medford resident Judy Parker. “I mean, all this stuff with women coming forward, women at least are grown up and can slap the guy, little children are helpless.”
He was charged with one count of aggravated sexual assault, three counts of sexual assault and four counts of endangering the welfare of children.
Parker wonders if the victims came forward as a result of the #MeToo movement of sexual assault and harassment victims coming out.
“It’s empowering people who have been abused to say this is not to be tolerated,” says Parker.
A trustee from the church announced on Thursday afternoon that Thomas has been suspended from his duties.
“It is with deep regret and saddened hearts that the board of Come Alive International and Creation Festivals along with the elders and trustees of Come Alive New Testament Church have indefinitely suspended Pastor Harry Thomas from all leadership positions with the church, festival and all associated ministries. While the allegations are unrelated to his roles in these ministries, leadership has determined this to be the proper course of action at this time until there can be a full investigation,” said trustee William Darpino.
Police say Thomas is at an undisclosed medical facility because he was too ill to go to jail.
Anyone who may have experienced inappropriate contact by Thomas is asked to call the Prosecutor’s Office Sexual Assault/Child Abuse Unit at 609-265-5879, or the Medford Township Police Department at 609-654-7511.