Update: The Fall of a Witch-Hunter

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A reader has tipped me off to the fact that Andrew L. Thomas, a youth minister and track coach in Rossville, Illinois, has been charged with five counts of sexual exploitation of a child in Federal Court (additional link). This is in addition to local charges of criminal sexual assault with an underage boy from earlier this year.

“According to the U.S. Attorney’s Office, Thomas used a scheme in which he identified himself on social Internet networking sites and in text messages or e-mails as a female under the names of Stephanie, Jenn, Jessica or Kayla. Thomas is accused of using the personas to entice the minor-age boys, sending them pornographic female images and in return soliciting pornographic images of the young boys. Thomas, the charges indicate, also used the names Stephanie Danielson, Kayla Wilson, Jennifer Martinez, Jessica Gonzalez, Justin Danielson and Justin Williams with the e-mail addresses: justjock89@aim.com, Kaylaw21to@aol.com, Foryouhopeulike@aol.com, Luknfrmystudboy2@aim.com, Stephaniedanielson89@hotmail.com and stephaniedanielson1989@yahoo.com. The indictment alleges a timeline for each of the counts, starting as early as January 2007 and running through March 2010.”

This is relevant to our communities because 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 tensions between the residents of the Rossville-Hoopeston area of Illinois and Witch School are touched on in the documentary “Hoopeston”.

Ultimately, the ongoing local hostility did prove successful in driving the Witches out of the area, and Witch School relocated to the friendlier climes of Salem.

“Witch School Headquarters are closing in the Rossville-Hoopeston area of Illinois. Witch School settled from Chicago to Central Illinois in 2003, and became the center of protest by many of the Christian Churches in the area. A well-documented spiritual battle has been waged for the last six years, with open hostilities and long quiet truces by various Christian factions. Simply put, this has not allowed Witch School the staff and resources needed to keep up with their growth. On Halloween, Witch School Rossville will close permanently, and Witch School will be moving its HQ to ‘The Witch City’, Salem Mass.”

If there’s a larger lesson to be learned from the sad incident, it may be that those most willing and eager to persecute others often have some sort of dark secret of their own to deal with. Usually these secrets are pedestrian when exposed to daylight, an affair, simple hypocrisy, fraud, but occasionally true monsters are exposed when scrutiny is shifted from the targets to those pointing the finger. Andrew L. Thomas was considered a pillar of his community, a moral leader, and there’s no telling how these revelations, and the resulting trial, will affect a community that is already dealing with severe problems. Here’s hoping the victims will see justice done.