MEDFORD, NJ (CelebrityAccess) — A former New Jersey pastor who helped to found what is billed as one of the nation’s largest Christian music festivals was sentenced to 18 years in prison after he was convicted of sexually assaulting children.
Harry Thomas, 75, who formerly served as the pastor for the Come Alive New Testament Church in Medford, and who helped to launch Creation Fest, failed in withdrawing a guilty plea on Friday, according to the Associated Press.
In his plea agreement, Thomas admitted to the sexual assault of a 9-year-old girl in 2005; sexual contact with three girls aged between 7 and 9 in 2000 and 2010; admitted that he exposed himself to another girl between 2008 and 2010.
“This person is a ravenous wolf,” the father of one of Thomas’s victims told the court. “He is one of the greatest hypocrites — a child molester masquerading as a pastor.”
Thomas, along with Timothy Landis, founded the first Creation Festival in 1979. Since then, the festival brand has expanded with an event in the northwest (which was placed in hiatus) and a series of standalone concert events.
While Thomas remained involved with the festival, it has primarily been overseen by executive director Bill Darpino in recent years
The Creation Festival and Thomas’s church, Come Alive International, released a statement addressing the arrest of their former colleague in December.
“While the allegations are unrelated to his roles in these ministries, leadership is actively cooperating with the authorities and has determined this to be the proper course of action at this time until there can be a full investigation. It is requested that all pray for the parties involved.”