Former youth pastor facing additional child molestation charges

Published: Jul. 18, 2017 at 9:20 AM EDT
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By: Amy Robinson | WCTV Eyewitness News

August 1, 2017

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WCTV) -- A former Tallahassee youth pastor accused of child molestation is now facing new charges.

Tuesday, the Leon County Sheriff's Office's Special Victims Unit issued five additional warrants against Roshad Thomas, 42.

Thomas is being charged with an additional three counts of lewd and lascivious acts on a child over age 12, one count of lewd and lascivious acts on a child under age 12, and one count of lewd and lascivious exhibitionism on a child over age 12.

Thomas was initially arrested back on July 17 on six counts of sex offenses against children ages 12 to 16.

He is being held in the Leon County Jail on $215,000 bond.

By: Lanetra Bennett | WCTV Eyewitness News

July 20, 2017

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WCTV) -- A former Tallahassee youth pastor accused of fondling boys made his first appearance in court Thursday morning.

Roshad Thomas appeared before a judge via video from the Leon County Jail.

Thomas was arrested Monday and charged with six counts of sex offenses against children ages 12 to 16. Investigators have identified five victims.

The first victim said the incident with Thomas happened ten years ago, when he was 13.

Thomas' younger sister spoke out in court Thursday. She said, "He is loved. I love him dearly. But, I'd also like you to know that we are here, available to do whatever it takes to get healing and restoration for Roshad, and more importantly for the community and any victims that might be involved."

Other supporters were there, too.

"I grieve on so many levels for so many people. But, we do not grieve without hope. To look up, to find your hope from above," said local minister, Kelly Burke.

Burke knows Thomas, and the five alleged sexual offense victims and their families.

Burke said, "Everybody is impacted by this, and everybody has been impacted by lives. None of us is an island unto ourselves. We have influence; some bigger than others."

Child abuse advocates say it's influence that makes it easier for some predators to find victims. The organization Lauren's Kids says 90-percent of young victims are abused by someone they know.

Michele Watson, Lauren's Kids Project Manager, said, "They have a really authentic relationship with this person at the beginning, that is built on trust and filling a void or a need in their life. Then, this happens to them and they don't understand the juxtaposition of the way that this person has made them feel. It makes them feel safe in other scenarios, but yet is willing to do this to them."

Court documents say one of the victims was asked why he didn't report Thomas touching his genitals. The report says he answered that he looked up to Thomas.

Watson says that's not unusual with many victims. She says 75-percent of sexually abused kids won't tell within a year and 45-percent will still have not told anyone in five years.

"Also, the stigma. They have a lot of self blame. They don't want to be judged by their peers. There's a lot of reasons why children might not come forward," said Watson.

Burke says he's making sure that Thomas' alleged victims know that there is help and support available. He said, "There is hope and there's good to be gained even during the deepest, darkest trials of our life; and this is one of them."

Watson says a red flag for parents is if an adult is more interested in the child than the parent. She says parents should always keep lines of communication open with their children, and start at a very young age.

By: WCTV Eyewitness News

July 20, 2017

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WCTV) -- A former Tallahassee youth pastor accused of molesting children made his first court appearance Thursday morning.

41-year-old Roshad Thomas was arrested Monday on six counts of sex offense against a child age 12-16.

His bond was set at $25,000 for the first two counts and $10,000 for the remaining four counts.

He was also ordered to wear a GPS monitor, not to make contact with minor males, and ordered to stay away from any place where young boys are likely to congregate.

Thomas was also ordered not to have unsupervised use of the internet or any contact with the alleged victims.

Thomas said he has not had time to hire an attorney, and was appointed a public defender.

He also told the judge that he was supposed to be moving to Palm Beach County Thursday, and asked if that was still possible. The judge advised that he can relocate if he bonds out, but that the same rules would apply in South Florida.

In that case, Thomas would still have to come to certain scheduled court hearings in Leon County.

By: Lanetra Bennett | WCTV Eyewitness News

July 18, 2017

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WCTV) -- A local youth minister and business man is accused of sex acts with children.

The accusations date back ten years, and investigators say they've now identified five victims.

41-year-old Roshad Thomas is charged with sex offenses against children, age 12 to 16 years old.

Many people are shocked and upset to hear about the allegations.

Tallahassee resident Donald Smallwood said, "That makes me feel bad about that because I got grandchildren here and my daughter and my wife. If he's a pastor, he got to stop being one. You can't do that."

According to court documents, Thomas admitted to investigators that he'd touched his ministry students' genitals. The report says he told authorities it was in an attempt to connect intimately, but not sexually.

Court documents say some of the encounters with the victims happened at an apartment Thomas lived in ten years ago.

The person listed as "Victim 2" in the report said he thought Thomas had no bad intentions and it was just his go-to joke. The report says they all looked up to Thomas and "worshiped him almost."

"He was our mentor and brought us to God. No one wanted to be that guy to call out Roshad," the report continued. The report says the then 15-year-old didn't realize Thomas did anything wrong until he spoke to his parents.

Court documents say one of the victims told authorities Thomas often picked him and other boys up, and would then take them back to his apartment to "hang out."

Authorities say the first victim they spoke to said he was 13 at the time.

They also say all five boys each described individual sexual encounters with Thomas from 2007 to 2014.

Thomas was a volunteer youth pastor at Calvary Chapel in Tallahassee during that time period. The pastor, Kent Nottingham, says that he and everyone at the church is shocked. He says no one at the church had any reason to believe anything inappropriate was happening with Thomas.

Local pastor Rev. Lee Johnson said, "If I could speak for all pastors in this city, we don't condone any of this. It's a sickness and we don't condone it at all."

Investigators say some of the encounters between Thomas and the victims were different. They say there was touching of the victims' private parts, some on top of their clothes and some underneath.

Rev. Johnson said, "Future relationships are effected that they may have. That's what's so hurting about it. Kid can't concentrate on his school work for these things, these past hurts. That's what really, really gets to me."

Deputies say none of the incidents with Thomas happened at any church or school.

Statement from Richard Albertson, Founding President, Live the Life

“All of us at Live the Life are shocked and saddened beyond words to learn about the allegations regarding our former employee Roshad Thomas reported in the news media this morning. As the news media has reported, Live the Life was one of a number of agencies that Roshad was associated with during part of the time frame that the incidents allegedly took place. We have not been contacted by the sheriff’s department, any of the victims, or any of the families of the victims, which leads us to believe that all of the incidents occurred outside of Roshad’s involvement with our organization. And if we are contacted by the authorities, we will cooperate in any way possible. If these allegations are true, our primary concern is for the students whose lives have been turned upside down because of the faith and trust they gave innocently to an adult in a position of power and great influence.”

By: WCTV Eyewitness News

July 18, 2017

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WCTV) -- A former youth pastor has been arrested, accused of committing sexual acts on multiple children.

The Leon County Sheriff's Office Special Victims Unit arrested 41-year-old Roshad Thomas Monday on six counts of sex offense against a child age 12-16.

According to LCSO, detectives spoke with a victim on July 11 who stated Thomas had “fondled” them approximately 10 years ago when they were 13-years-old.

During the investigation, detectives located four additional victims. Deputies say each victim described individual sexual encounters with Thomas over the course of several years, from 2007 through 2014.

Thomas voluntarily came to the Sheriff’s Office on Monday to speak with detectives. After an interview, Thomas was arrested and taken to the Leon County Jail.

Detectives are continuing the investigation. Anyone with any information related to Thomas or the investigation is asked to call the LCSO Special Victims Unit at (850) 606-3400.