New Jersey pastor sexually assaulted children for 16 years, prosecutor says

Friday, December 8, 2017
NJ pastor sexually assaulted children for 16 years, prosecutor says
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NJ pastor sexually assaulted children for 16 years, prosecutor says. Wendy Saltzman reports during Action News at 6 p.m. on December 7, 2017.

MEDFORD TWP., New Jersey -- A pastor for a church in Burlington County, New Jersey is accused of sexually assaulting children over the course of 16 years.

Harry Thomas, of Queens Lane in Medford Township, is charged with aggravated sexual assault and endangering the welfare of children.

Harry Thomas

Thomas, who was arrested on Wednesday morning, is the pastor for the Come Alive Church in the township.

According to the prosecutor's office, the 74-year-old assaulted four children between 1999 and 2015. The assaults, police say, happened in Medford Township, but they would not confirm if they happened at the church or elsewhere.

No further details about the cases were released as part of an effort to protect the victims' identities.

Church official William Darpino said Thomas is suspended indefinitely from all leadership positions. The church took swift action to remove the head of their flock.

"Leadership has determined this to be the proper course of action at this time until there can be a full investigation," Darpino said.

Medport Diner owner Dino Originos says he has known the man, called "Pastor Harry" for nearly 30 years.

"I've seen him with children, with my children, and there is no way. I can't believe it," Originos said. "He doesn't seem to fit that profile. He is such a nice man and a Godly man and he has grandkids himself."

Thomas was the founder of the "Creation Festival," which started in 1978. In an interview posted online, Thomas talks about being drawn to teaching the young.

"I still had a burden for youth, and my burden for youth started to really come to the forefront," he said in the video.

Police say the reverend is receiving treatment at a medical facility and under the guard of corrections personnel.