Ex-NJ pastor sentenced to 18 years in child sex abuse case

MOUNT HOLLY, N.J. (AP) -- A judge has sentenced the former pastor of a New Jersey church to 18 years in prison after denying his bid to withdraw his guilty plea in sexual assaults and other crimes involving five minors.

Burlington County Assistant Prosecutor Stephen Eife called 75-year-old Harry Thomas "a devil in disguise."

As part of plea agreement earlier this year, the former Come Alive New Testament Church pastor acknowledged sexual assault of a 9-year-old in 2005, sexual contact with three girls 7 to 9 years old in 2000 and 2010 and exposing himself and endangering the welfare of a girl between 2008 and 2010.

Thomas wept Friday while expressing remorse and confusion about his crimes.

Defense attorney Robin Lord cited her client's age and numerous health problems as well as his ministry work.