Sunday, February 25, 2018
Public safety

Hernando youth pastor accused of giving alcohol to minors

RIDGE MANOR — A youth pastor and Christian rapper is accused of providing alcohol to underage kids after a volleyball match last month, according to the Hernando County Sheriff's Office.

Jared Michael Thomas of Ridge Manor First Baptist Church faces two counts of contributing to the delinquency of a minor. He went to a home in Hernando County with his daughters Sept. 5. One girl at the home said he touched her buttocks and made profane sexual remarks.

Thomas, 34, could not be reached for comment Tuesday. A call to the church was not returned.

The girls' names and ages are redacted in the sheriff's incident report.

Deputies said Thomas admitted to buying the alcohol that the girls drank but contended that he did not actually offer it to them. He said the drinks were a cocktail called "sex on the beach."

Investigators originally were called out to a home for reports of a man chasing a girl around a car, according to the Sheriff's Office report. They found a door ajar, a broken window and blood drops near a bathroom sink. The address of the house was redacted.

A girl at the home told deputies that Thomas and her friends were at the house after a volleyball game. He went to the store and came back with alcohol, according to the report.

A girl said that when Thomas went to leave, two people, whose names were redacted, did not want to go with him, and he tried to shove them into the vehicle.

Someone locked him out of the house, and he tried to force his way back in, according to the report.

Thomas denied that he had touched any of the girls, and deputies said they could not establish probable cause for a battery charge against him. He turned himself in on a warrant Oct. 8.

Thomas began serving as youth pastor in 2012 and is "passionate about making disciples and seeing people reach their maximum potential," according to a biography on the church website. It is unclear whether he still works at the church after the arrest.

He was born in Dunedin and raised in New Port Richey. He and his wife record Christian rap music as the duo Beyond Skillz.

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