Blog

Medford Township Pastor Pleads Guilty in Sexual Assault Case

South Jersey Sex Crime ChargesA pastor in Medford Township, New Jersey, recently confessed to sex crimes against four minors, as well as sexual misconduct with another juvenile.

According to officials from the Burlington County Prosecutor’s Office, 74-year-old pastor Harry L. Thomas pleaded guilty to three second-degree counts of sexual assault and one count of aggravated sexual assault, which is a first-degree offense. He also pleaded guilty to one count of endangering the welfare of a child, a second-degree charge.

This confession came on the heels of Thomas, 74, being charged in December of 2017 with a multiple sexual assaults that occurred between 1999 and 2015. According to court documents, the assaults took place in Medford, New Jersey. Thomas was the pastor and founder of Come Alive Church and the founder of Creation Festival, which is advertised as the largest Christian music festival in the country.

As a result of his plea agreement, Thomas will face up to 20 years in NJ State Prison without the possibility of parole. While taking a plea bargain is often the path of least resistance, there are many circumstances in which people move too quickly to accept a plea bargain for fear of losing in a trial. Here’s a look at the charges and penalties Thomas was facing if convicted.

“Sexual assault” is the legal term for rape in New Jersey. According to N.J.S.A. 2C:14-2, sexual assault is defined as “the penetration, no matter how slight, in which physical force or coercion is used or in which the victim is physically or mentally incapacitated.” The statute identifies several elements of the offense, which include: having sexual contact with someone who is under 13 years of age and while the offender is over 17; committing an act of sexual penetration when using physical force (that does not result in an injury); the victim is between ages 16-18 and is related to the offender or under his or her authority; the victim is under the perpetrator’s control; or the victim is between the ages 13-16 and the offender is four years older.

A sexual assault is most often prosecuted as a second-degree offense with a maximum penalty of 10 years’ incarceration. However, aggravated sexual assault is treated as a first-degree offense and is subject to up to 20 years’ imprisonment. It occurs when one or more of the following criteria are met: the victim is under 13 years old; the victim is handicapped or in some way incapacitated; the victim is between the ages of 13 and 16 and the perpetrator is a family member or has control over the victim; the sexual assault is committed during the perpetration of another crime, like robbery, assault or murder; the perpetrator used a weapon during the sexual assault; or the actor committed the crime with the use of force and the assistance from another person.

Although endangering the welfare of a child covers multiple acts under N.J.S.A. 2C:24-4, this case refers to a person engaging in sexual conduct with a minor whom he or she has the legal duty to care for. This is a second-degree charge that could’ve added another 10 years to Thomas’ sentence.

All told, if Thomas were found guilty of each charge, he would’ve been looking at a maximum of 60 years’ incarceration. Without access to the evidence the prosecution had against him, it’s impossible to truly judge whether or not a plea bargain was in his best interest. Sometimes, a person who holds a prominent position within their community chooses to expedite the case with a plea bargain.

Charged with a Sex Crime in Southern New Jersey?

If you’ve been charged with sexual assault, aggravated sexual assault or any other type of sex crime in Burlington County, New Jersey, it’s important to consider all of your options before rushing into a plea bargain. A guilty plea will likely require you to register as a sex offender, which will follow you for the rest of your life. If you or a loved one is facing a sex crime charge in Medford Township or elsewhere in Southern New Jersey, contact the experienced criminal defense lawyers at The Law Offices of Leonard Biddison to get the guidance you need. We will thoroughly examine your case and create a strategy for the best possible outcome. Call 856-427-6888 to schedule a free consultation or email us. We also provide appointments at our office in Collingswood, NJ.

For additional information about this case, access the following article: Pastor admits he sexually assaulted 4 kids over 16-year period

Man Accepts Plea Deal in Pemberton Sexual Assault Case

Pemberton NJ Sexual Assault ChargesA man recently accepted a plea offer from the Burlington County Prosecutor’s Office requiring him to admit to the violent sexual assault of a woman in Pemberton Township, New Jersey.

The defendant in this case, 26-year-old Pemberton resident Lawrence Pippins, was arrested after a joint investigation by the Pemberton Township Police Department and Burlington County Prosecutor’s Office. Authorities identified Pippins as a suspect after a woman was sexually assaulted and threatened with a gun inside her apartment at approximately 2:45 a.m. on June 15th.

During the incident, which occurred in the University Park Apartments in Pemberton Township, officials say Pippins restrained the woman and sexually assaulted her at gunpoint. Pippins reportedly fled the scene after the sexual assault. He lived in the same complex as the victim at the time and was on parole after serving almost 6 years for robbery.

On Wednesday, Pippins pleaded guilty to aggravated sexual assault and kidnapping in Burlington County Superior Court in Mount Holly. His plea agreement required an admission of guilt in exchange for a 25-year prison sentence recommendation from the Burlington County Prosecutor’s Office. The presiding judge in this case, Honorable Charles A. Delehey, accepted the agreed upon sentence and Pippins is scheduled for sentencing on May 3rd.

Under New Jersey law (N.J.S.A. 2C:14-2(a)), aggravated sexual assault entails a mandatory period of parole ineligibility. According to the No Early Release Act (NERA), which governs certain offenses considered particularly egregious like aggravated sexual assault, a person convicted must serve 85 percent of the sentence imposed before becoming eligible for parole. In this case, Pippins will have to serve over 21 years of a 25-year sentence before parole becomes an option.

Charged with Sexual Assault in Pemberton Township, NJ? Consult an Experienced Sex Crimes Defense Attorney

Being charged with a sex crime can change your life in an instant. Even an accusation turns your life upside down. From this moment forward, anything you say can and will be used against you. In other words, you need the advice of seasoned legal counsel. Leonard Biddison is a highly experienced criminal defense attorney who has been defending clients in Pemberton, Burlington County, and throughout Southern New Jersey for over 2 decades. His knowledge and skill means you will never be alone in the fight for your life. For a free consultation about your sexual assault charges, contact our offices in Collingswood at (856) 427-6888 or contact us online today.

Medford Township Pastor Charged with Sexual Assault of Minors

Medford NJ Sexual Assault LawyersA pastor in Medford Township, New Jersey has been charged with multiple sex crimes for allegedly sexually assaulting minors for over the course of 16 years.

According to officials from the Burlington County Prosecutor’s Office, 74-year-old Medford resident Harry L. Thomas has been charged with sexual assaultaggravated sexual assault, and endangering the welfare of a child. These charges came in connection with alleged sexual assaults of four separate victims while they were underage. The sexual abuse reportedly occurred between 1999 and 2015.

Thomas is a pastor at the local Come Alive Church in Medford. Following his arrest on Wednesday, he was transferred to a medical facility where he is receiving treatment under law enforcement supervision. Eventually, he will be required to make his first appearance in Burlington County Superior Court in Mount Holly. He is now exposed to severe consequences in connection with the sex crime allegations.

Aggravated sexual assault is the most serious charge Thomas is facing, as it is considered a first degree crime under New Jersey law. Charges for aggravated sexual assault and sexual assault are governed by the same statute, N.J.S.A. 2C:14-2. The circumstances of a given case dictate whether a person is charged with the first degree crime of aggravated sexual assault or the second degree crime of sexual assault. In this case because there are multiple victims, the different charges are likely in connection with separate incidents.

First degree aggravated sexual assault entails a maximum prison term of 20 years, while second degree sexual assault is punishable by up to 10 years of incarceration. Both types of sexual assault crimes require those convicted to register as sex offenders under New Jersey’s Megan’s Law. Not only that, a person convicted of sexual assault must serve 85 percent of their sentence before coming up for parole eligibility.

Medford NJ Sexual Assault Lawyers

If you are accused of, or under investigation for sexual assault, anything you say can and will be used against you. With this is mind, it is important to have an experienced attorney representing you as early on in the process as possible. Do not jeopardize the rest of your life. Contact the Law Offices of Leonard Biddison today at 856-427-6888 to speak with a skilled New Jersey sex crimes defense lawyer. Mr. Biddison has been defending clients charged with sexual assault and other criminal offenses for over 20 years. He is renowned for his work defending clients throughout Burlington and Camden County, NJ. Contact us online or by phone for a free consultation about your case.

For additional information related to this case, access the following article: Pastor, Christian festival founder abused minors for 16 years, authorities say

Man Sentenced to 25 Years for Sexual Assault in Mount Holly NJ

Mount Holly Sexual Assault Charges

A man was recently sentenced to 25 years in prison after pleading guilty to aggravated sexual assault and sexual assault in Burlington County Superior Court in Mount Holly.

According to officials from the Burlington County Prosecutor’s Office, 27-year-old David W. Ragone pleaded guilty to first degree aggravated sexual assault and second degree sexual assault in March. At the end of last week, he was sentenced to 25 years in connection with the first degree charge and 10 years for the second degree charge, to be served concurrently. His sentence does not allow for parole eligibility.

The charges arose from an incident that occurred with two girls near railroad tracks in Mount Holly in April of last year. Ragone, who was homeless at the time, reportedly attacked the girls while intoxicated. Although they attempted to run away, Ragone threatened to kill them. Following an investigation, he was arrested and charged with these sex crimes.

There are several specific legal issues involved in this case. First, note the defendant was charged with a first degree crime and a second degree crime. This distinction is important in terms of the alleged conduct involved in the offense and the potential penalties associated with a conviction. Although aggravated sexual assault and sexual assault are governed by the same New Jersey Statute, N.J.S.A. 2C:14-2, these offenses have different elements under the law.

Aggravated sexual assault is the more egregious of the two and is graded as a first degree crime, which is the most serious level of indictable offense in New Jersey. A first degree crime is typically punishable by between 10 and 20 years in NJ State Prison. Aggravated sexual assault offenses must involve sexual penetration. On the other hand, sexual assault is a second degree crime which may involve sexual contact or sexual penetration under certain circumstances. Second degree crimes entail a prison term ranging from 5 to 10 years.

Both aggravated sexual assault and sexual assault are sex crimes that requires registration as a sex offender under New Jersey’s Megan’s Law. In addition, both of these offenses are subject to the rules of the No Early Release Act, which requires the person convicted to serve 85 percent of the sentence imposed before becoming eligible for parole.

Accused of Sexual Assault in Mount Holly, New Jersey?

If you have been arrested for sexual assault or another sex crime in Burlington County, NJ, it is critical to consult with a knowledgeable criminal defense attorney about your case. Leonard Biddison has been defending clients charged with serious criminal offenses like sexual assault for over 20 years and he knows what it takes to win. Contact The Law Offices of Leonard Biddison anytime at (856) 427-6888 for a free consultation. We are happy to answer your questions about charges that have been filed or a current investigation.

Burlington County Man Stabbed by Girlfriend

Burlington County NJ Domestic Abuse LawyersIn a recent incident of domestic violence, a Burlington County man was stabbed by his girlfriend just prior to ending their relationship.

According to officials from the Jersey City Police Department, the victim in this case is a 52-year-old man from Burlington County. He was allegedly stabbed twice, once in the right arm and once in the right leg, by his girlfriend. The incident occurred on Fremont Street at approximately 4:30 in the morning, after which the woman reportedly fled the scene.

After investigating the incident and speaking with the alleged victim, police say he declined to press charges. In domestic abuse cases such as these, the alleged victim has multiple options: he or she can choose to press criminal charges and/or to file a restraining order against the alleged abuser. Under the New Jersey Prevention of Domestic Violence Act (N.J.S.A. 2C:25-17), which was passed in 1991, there are a variety of individuals who may qualify for a restraining order if they experience some form of abuse from a current or former partner. Specifically, the NJ Prevention of DV Act protects current and former spouses, current and former dating partners, current and former members of the same household, and parents who share or are expecting a child together.

The second requirement for a restraining order to be issued is a predicate act of domestic violence. Essentially, this means that the accused must have committed one of the following acts against the alleged victim: Homicide, Terroristic Threats, Simple AssaultAggravated Assault, Criminal Coercion, Criminal Mischief, Criminal Restraint, Criminal Trespass, False Imprisonment, Criminal Sexual Contact, Sexual Assault, Harassment, Kidnapping, Lewdness, Stalking, or Burglary.

In this case, the predicate act that would likely apply is aggravated assault, for which the woman could also face criminal charges. Under New Jersey statute N.J.S.A. 2C:12-1(b), aggravated assault can be graded as a fourth degree, third degree, or second degree crime, depending on the circumstances of the specific case. A person can be charged with second degree aggravated assault if they attempt to cause, or do in fact cause, serious bodily injury. Attacking someone with a deadly weapon is an example of such conduct that may give rise to these charges. If you or convicted of second degree aggravated assault, you may face a New Jersey State Prison term ranging from 5 to 10 years. If a weapon is involved in the offense, you may face additional charges for possession of a weapon for an unlawful purpose.

Leonard Biddison is a criminal defense attorney with over 20 years of experience representing clients involved in criminal and domestic violence cases in New Jersey and Pennsylvania. He handles all aspects of domestic abuse cases, including criminal charges and restraining order hearings, and is ardently dedicated to protecting his clients’ interests. If you are dealing with criminal charges and/or a restraining order in Burlington County or surrounding communities in South Jersey, contact The Law Offices of Leonard Biddison today at 856-427-6888 for a cost-free consultation about your case.

For additional information pertaining to this case, access the following article: Woman stabs boyfriend who was going to end relationship: police

Testimonials

"Phenominal, brilliant attorney!"

"Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat."

David P.

Request a Free Consultation

If you or someone you love has been charged with a criminal or DUI offense in New Jersey or Pennsylvania, finding the answers you need to make informed decisions is critical. Complete our contact form to request your free consultation or contact our offices in New Jersey at (856) 427-6888, Philadelphia at (215) 235-5240, or Delaware County at (610) 853-9494.


We are available 24/7 Nights and Weekends to Provide Free Consultations | Hablamos Español

Office Locations

Collingswood
Office

900 Haddon Avenue, Suite 234

Collingswood, NJ 08108

(856) 427-6888Directions

Philadelphia
Office

230 S Broad Suite #1501

Philadelphia, PA 19102

(215) 235-5240Directions

Upper Darby
Office

8234 W Chester Pike

Upper Darby, PA 19082

(610) 853-9494Directions