[Photos by: Wikimedia Commons, LancasterOnline/YouTube]

The pastor behind the long-running Creation Festival, often billed as the nation’s “largest Christian music festival,” has been sentenced to 18 years in prison after pleading guilty to child molestation, as reported by the Courier-Post.

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Harry Thomas, the 74-year-old co-founder of Creation Festival, received the sentence for sexually abusing four minors. The pastor also had “inappropriate” interactions with another minor, spanning a 16-year period, the ruling found.

Creation Festival (or “Creation Festivals”) was started in 1979 in Pennsylvania. It’s since become a target music destination for many Christian music fans, especially after the demise of the comparable Cornerstone Festival in 2012.

While Thomas was arrested and charged in December 2017, he was sentenced to the 18-year prison term at a hearing in June. Facing a possible 20 years with no parole, he pleaded guilty to the five molestation counts in February.

“I’m very sorry for the pain I’ve caused,” Thomas reportedly said before referencing Matthew 18:6. “I agree with the scriptures. It would be better for a millstone to be hung around my neck and be cast into the sea. That’s what I deserve.”

According to the Christian Post, the Creation Festival’s website at one time offered the following illustration of its supposed doctrinal objective, describing a spiritual calling beyond the fest’s annual CCM and camping experience:

“Creation is an opportunity for God to do a work your heart and life,” it reportedly said. “Creation is a great place to allow God’s Holy Spirit to renew and release and focus you on following and being a disciple of Christ.”

You can watch a 2010 interview with Thomas below: