MOUNT HOLLY, N.J. (CBS) — A former New Jersey pastor who pleaded guilty to sexually assaulting several children was sentenced to prison on Friday.READ MORE: Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney Says He'll Be Happy When He's Not Mayor Following Fourth Of July Shooting
Authorities say Harry L. Thomas, 75, was sentenced to 18 years behind bars for allegedly sexually assaulting four juveniles and having inappropriate interaction with a fifth one over a multi-year period ending in 2015.
Thomas attempted to withdraw his guilty plea earlier this week, but the motion was denied by Judge Covert.READ MORE: Sources: Authorities Investigating Whether 2 Police Officers Struck By Stray Bullets On Ben Franklin Parkway
“What we saw in court today was the unmasking of a true Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde,” Burlington County Prosecutor Scott Coffina said. “An individual who professed to take responsibility for his actions moved –unsuccessfully – to withdraw his guilty plea. An individual who professed to be a man of faith and who has made many positive contributions to strangers committed the ultimate act of betrayal against family members who loved and trusted him. There is no sentence that can approximate justice in light of this defendant’s despicable acts against these children, but it is gratifying that the victims have been spared the pain of a trial and the defendant almost certainly will spend the rest of his life in prison, where he never can harm a child again.”
Thomas founded the Come Alive Church and was a promoter of Christian music concerts. He resigned from the church after his arrest last December and then pleaded guilty in February to sexually assaulting four juveniles and having “inappropriate interaction” with another child.
The investigation revealed that the assaults occurred in Medford Township between 1999 and 2015.MORE NEWS: Kyle Schwarber Homers Twice In Phillies' 11-0 Romp Past Nationals
Thomas will not be eligible for parole.