30 Years Becoming a Sex Predator, Former BBC Presenter Sentenced to 10 Years
Benjamin Thomas, 44, pleaded guilty to 40 sexual offenses committed over nearly 30 years, including sexual activity with children, sexual abuse, attempted sexual assault, voyeurism and making obscene videos of children. He was sentenced at Crown Mold Court, UK.
Thomas works on the BBC’s Wales Today program and the Welsh-language children’s program Ffeil. He was also a pastor at the Criccieth Family Church in Gwynedd, North Wales, until he was arrested last year.
At trial he confessed to assaulting boys and men while they were sleeping, often during Christian camps and conferences. Most of the victims are teenage boys.
The former presenter’s preferred method was to wait until the potential victim fell asleep to harass them.
“For nearly 30 years, until your arrest in September 2019, you hid a dark secret, namely that you are a productive sexual harasser,” said the judge presiding over the trial as quoted by the Independent, Saturday (3/10/2020).
He sentenced Thomas to 10 years and four months, with an extended license term of six years.
According to the Judge, Thomas had abused his position as a respected church leader.
The judge said reports showed Thomas struggled to reconcile his faith and sexual desires, but that was not an excuse for his crimes.
“Over time, you made secret videos about boys and men,” said the judge.
The trial found that Thomas had hidden his cell phone in a laundry bag in an outdoor center to record boys going to the toilet or taking a shower.
The judge revealed Thomas’s harassment finally ended after one of the victims mustered up the courage to come forward, and reported him to the police.
During the initial police questioning, Thomas replied “no comment”, but was asked to be re-interviewed again three weeks later and admitted to offenses against 33 victims aged between 11 and 34 years.
The trial revealed that many of his victims did not realize they had been harassed until they were tracked down by police after Thomas’s confession, and not everyone he admitted to being harassed had been found, the court heard.
“You know the harm you inflict on your victims and the wider impact your crimes have on your family and church community,” the judge added.
Thomas has been classified as a dangerous offender and it is determined he will be on the Sex Offenders List for life. The judge also issued a Sexual Hazard Prevention Order.
Chief Detective Inspector Gareth Evans said: “North Wales Police welcome today’s sentence and I hope it will provide reassurance and comfort to Thomas’s abuse survivors.”
“He took a privileged position where he was supposed to provide inspiration and guidance to young people, but it caused real damage to the lives of young people.”
A spokesman for the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (NSPCC) Cymru said: “Its assault will have a profound impact on many of those who have been abused and it is imperative that they get all the help they need to move forward with their lives.”
“Thankfully, Thomas’ campaign of harassment has now ended and he is entitled to face prison terms,” he added.