Church Member Arrested For Abuse — 5 Years Later

Boy Came Forward To Church Elders In 1997 11, 2005

Island Pond, Vt. — Police charged a former member of the Twelve Tribes Church in Island Pond with molesting a young boy.

John Thomas, 32, is accused of sexually abusing at least one of the children at the church in the Northeast Kingdom.

Church elders believe there could be many more victims — at least eight have already come forward.

According to prosecutors, Thomas sexually abused one of the young members on church property. Church elders said they found out about the allegations in 2002 and asked Thomas to leave. He’s been living in Massachusetts since then.

Police arrested him last month and brought him back to Vermont.

Thomas pleaded not guilty in St. Johnsbury Wednesday and was released on $10,000 bail. He could face up to 35 years in prison if convicted.

Thomas has also been ordered to stay away from all children under 16 years old.

Court documents show the boy told members of the church as early as 1997 but the church said it didn’t know about it until 2002. At that point, they didn’t call the police because the alleged victim had become an adult and was no longer with the church.

This is the second time there has been trouble in Island Pond with the church.

Twenty years ago, police raided the town and took more than 100 children from the religious group. However, hours after the raid, a judge ruled the raid unconstitutional and ordered the children be returned.

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