A 74-year-old pastor from South Jersey is facing multiple sexual assault and other charges in the alleged abuse of four minors over a number of years, the Burlington County Prosecutor's Office announced Thursday.
Harry Thomas of Queens Lane in Medford Township, pastor of Come Alive Church in Medford, was taken into custody on Wednesday. He faces one count of aggravated sexual assault, three counts of sexual assault, and four counts of endangering the welfare of children.
Thomas' alleged abuse of the four minors in Medford Township occurred between 1999 and 2015, according to the Prosecutor's Office.
The case is being prepared to present to a grand jury for possible indictment, and Thomas' first Superior Court appearance will be "in the near future," according to a news release from Prosecutor Scott A. Coffina's office.
Thomas was being treated at a medical facility, the office said. It said it was not releasing information on the victims to protect their identities.
Come Alive Church, which "believe[s] in the entire teachings of the inspired Word of God as recorded in the Old and New Testament of the Holy Bible," according to its website, released a statement Thursday night:
"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. It is requested that all pray for the parties involved and refrain from speculation regarding the circumstances."
An online page states that Thomas founded the church in 1983, according to the Camden Courier-Post. Much of the church's website is password-protected.
The Prosecutor's Office is urging anyone who may have experienced inappropriate contact by Thomas to call its sexual assault/child abuse unit at 609-265-5879 or Medford Township police at 609-654-7511.