An ex-pastor and BBC television presenter has been imprisoned for 10 years, and four months after he confessed to abusing boys and men for over almost three decades.
Mold crown court in north Wales heard that Ben Thomas, 44, carried out many of his aggressions while his victims were sleeping at Christian camps and conferences.
Sentencing Ben Thomas for 40 sexual crimes involving 33 boys and men, the judge, Timothy Petts, said that for almost 30 years, Ben Thomas concealed a dark secret, namely that he was a prolific sex abuser.
The vast preponderance of Ben Thomas’s victims were teenage boys and Judge Petts said that Ben Thomas used his position as an esteemed church leader to pinpoint his victims.
Judge Petts said Ben Thomas, who started the sexual abuse when he was 14 or 15, had a mask of respectability, but was a dangerous criminal, and ruled he would be on the sex offender register for life.
Ben Thomas worked for BBC Wales as a presenter on Ffeil, the Welsh language news programme for young people, and as a correspondent on Wales Today.
He left the BBC in 2005 to sermonise on the streets of London before returning to Wales in 2008 as the pastor of the Criccieth Family Church in Gwynedd.
His offending came to light when one victim came forward and Ben Thomas was reported to the police.
When questioned by the police, Ben Thomas, of Flint, initially replied ‘no comment’, but three weeks later he requested to be re-interviewed and confessed to crimes against victims aged between 11 and 34 in North Wales, Shropshire, London and Romania.
The court heard that multiple victims were clueless they’d been abused until they were traced by police after Thomas’s admission and not all of those he confessed to abusing have been found.
Ben Thomas, who has a wife and children, pleaded guilty at an earlier hearing to crimes including sexual activity with a child, sexual assaults, attempted sexual assaults, indecent assaults, voyeurism and making inappropriate videos of children.
The court heard that he once concealed his phone in a wash bag at an outdoor centre to film boys going to the toilet or showering and on some occasions when his victims awoke to find him in their room, he would pretend to be sleepwalking.
And one man who woke as he was being assaulted described his bed shaking and being excessively frightened, as he thought ‘dark spirits’ were attacking him and in a statement read to the court, another victim described feeling enraged, hurt, disgusted, let down and violated and he said the man’s face will never leave his thoughts.
But the painful fact is that this beast abused his victims for 30 years and only got a ten-year sentence, which doesn’t make any sense at all.
Ben Thomas acted like a wolf in sheep’s clothing and for 30 years he committed 40 sexual crimes involving 33 boys and men, yet was given such lenient sentencing, but he deserves a much harsher punishment than this.
There were so many victims here, including his wife and children – imagine the stigma they will face and this man sought out his position so that he could exploit boys and men.
The sentencing should have been per offence and ten years in jail is an affront to those victims, but then I suppose all this man has to do is say sorry to the invisible sky fairy and all is forgiven, with them believing that their place in heaven is guaranteed.
The church is respected in numerous ways and being a paedophile appears to be a prerequisite to enter the brotherhood – is this really how the corrupting influence of the church really works? And all in the name of religion, and it seems that all institutions are corrupt.
And it seems at our justice system only cares about crimes concerning money, but rape, marital or sexual abuse they really don’t care about but commit fraud and they’ll put you in the clink forever.