The victims of a former BBC presenter who admitted sexually abusing children and adults often had “no idea” about what he did to them, a court has heard.
Ben Thomas, of Flint, Wales, pleaded guilty to 40 offences including sexual activity with a child, sexual assaults and making indecent videos of children at Mold Crown Court in July.
The 44-year-old’s sentencing hearing began on Tuesday.
The offences, which also included indecent assaults and voyeurism, took place over a 30-year span from 1990 and many took place at Christian camps and conferences, the court has heard.
They took place against 33 male victims aged between 11 and 34, and he confessed to the crimes in a police interview in 2019, the court was told.
Thomas assaulted his victims as they slept.
Prosecuting, Simon Rogers said: “The vast majority of victims had no idea he had sexually assaulted them.
“It was as a result of his admissions in interview they were told.”
When, in some instances, his victims awoke to see him in their room he would pretend to be sleepwalking, the court heard.
One victim who woke up during an assault said he felt the bed shake and was “extremely frightened” because he thought “dark spirits” did it to him, Rogers said.
The prosecutor added that when the victim turned his light on, Thomas was “slumped” between beds and looking “flustered”.
Another victim said he felt angry, disgusted and let down, adding that Thomas’s “face won’t leave my thoughts” while another said he forgave the former Wales Today journalist.
“I don’t know what Ben has in his heart but I do know if Christ is in his heart I will see him in heaven,” he said.
Thomas told police that he would “derive sexual pleasure” from touching his victims, adding: “That’s part of my offending, sadly.”
He also filmed his victims, hiding his phone in a wash bag to record boys going to the toilet or showering at an outdoor centre, on one occasion.
Police have not been able to trace all of the victims Thomas confessed to abusing, the court heard.
He left his BBC show aimed at young people in 2015 to become a preacher.
Thomas, who has a wife and children, resigned from his role as pastor at Criccieth Family Church in Gwynedd after he was arrested.
North Wales Police’s Detective Constable Lynne Willsher said previously that she was grateful for the Evangelical Church’s assistance during the investigation.
Defending, Rachel Shenton said Thomas’s behaviour was “something of an addiction” and noted that he admitted offences which could not have otherwise been proved.
“It brought home to him what he was doing, how serious it was and that he simply could not live with himself and what he had done,” she said, adding that he had gone through an “enormous fall from grace” and asked to be held in custody.
He had also lost his family after his admissions, she said.
The sentencing hearing will conclude on Friday.