The Fall of a Witch-Hunter

Jason Pitzl-Waters —  March 26, 2010 — 19 Comments

News media in East Central Illinois have been following the case of Andrew L. Thomas, a youth minister and track coach in Rossville, Illinois who’s been charged with the rape of 16-year-old boy he was mentoring.

“Andrew Thomas made his first appearance in court today. He’s been the youth minister at Rossville Church of Christ for three years, according to court records. Prosecutors say he had sex with a 16 year old boy he was mentoring. They say it happened over the last few months. The victim came forward to police. Thomas was arrested last night. If convicted, Thomas faces up to 15 years in prison. His friends, family, and church community are standing behind him. Prosecutors say more charges could be filed. They are investigating whether he may have child pornography on his computer.”

While these accusations against a Christian clergyman seem sadly pedestrian in an age of massive abuse scandals, this case draws special attention for our community. For while Thomas was allegedly abusing young boys, he was also leading an anti-Pagan crusade in order to drive Witch School out of Rossville, Illinois.

“Andy Thomas, youth minister at the Rossville Church of Christ, said residents had a spiritual responsibility to drive the witches out. If they didn’t, he said, young people were in danger of being pulled off the Christian path …”

The bitter irony of a man trying to protect “young people” from Witches while allegedly abusing them hasn’t escaped the folks at Witch School (since relocated to Salem, Massachusetts), who have released a statement concerning the matter.

“Pastor Andy Thomas, which claimed superior rights has now been arrested for Criminal Sexual Assault against a minor, and will face trial for them. He is alleged to have had sexual encounter with a 16 year old boy under his mentorship, and is under investigation for child pornography. He is still innocent until proven guilty, these are serious charges that question the intentions and his moral standing in the community. Our heart goes out to his alleged victim and there families, as this must be very difficult to deal with. We feel for the Rossville community, which trusted this man to give them clear spiritual advise, and instead betrayed them, in this case with their own children. In truth, he abused their trust as well, when he led them in vigorous protest against Witch School, which had never once involved in any activity to harm the community. Pastor Andy Thomas worked hard to assure the community and the nation knew how awful it was that Witch School was, while he was the individual who was bringing real harm to the community.”

You can see further reactions from Witch School at Rev. Don’s Vlog.

While his church community claims to be standing behind him, one has to wonder how many in Rossville are now questioning the past actions of this pastor, and if his obsession with driving out the “harmful” Witches wasn’t an externalization of the same deep seated psychosis that allegedly drove him to abuse children. Did he believe that by driving out the “other” he could also drive out the same demons that haunted him? Or was his religious zeal all a smokescreen for a deep-seated abusive nature? In any case, no matter what the ultimate outcome, this Witch-hunter has fallen.

Jason Pitzl-Waters