Sunday, April 03, 2011

Youth pastor Andrew Thomas convicted

Youth pastor Andrew Thomas entered a plea agreement where he will serve 15 years in prison for criminal sexual assault. The former youth pastor is a classic sexual predator.

The case, which began in March 2010, initiated the investigation that led to a federal grand jury indictment against Thomas on five counts of sexual exploitation of a child.

Those charges alleged he utilized a scheme in which he identified himself on Internet social networking sites and in text messages or e-mails as a female and used the personas to entice local minor-age boys, sending them pornographic female images and in return soliciting pornographic images of the young boys.

Thomas is a former youth pastor at the First Church of Christ in Rossville. He was also a track coach at a local elementary school.

The comments on this article are typical:

I agree that Mr Thomas should go to jail and forever be prevented from ever committing another heinous crime such as this, however, I don't see the point in going after the church. What could they have done to prevent employing a pedifile as a youth minister? A background check?…

There are things the church could have done. A background check is the minimum one would expect. If one were not done the church is clearly negligent. There are also psychological profiles that can help predict behavior and inclination. There are third party services that can act as clearing houses for anonymous abuse concerns.There are policies that can guide acceptable conduct. There are safe counseling practices that can assure children are not abused while in his care. There are IT practices that can also be use to catch predictive behavior. The list is quite extensive. My point is – the church must do these things even if the youth pastor is a long time community member with the trust of the staff. They might not prevent him abusing children in his private life, but you will reduce the risk of abuse at Church.

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