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Youth volunteer pleaded not guilty to molesting kids

Nearly a dozen felony counts were filed today against a former YMCA employee accused in a multiple-victim molestation case in Cathedral City.

Christopher Dean Thomas, 35, of Indio appeared in an Indio courtroom Monday afternoon and pleaded not guilty to all charges against him.

Thomas is being held on $1 million bail for allegedly molesting at least five young girls while working as a counselor at the YMCA.

“We do everything we possibly can to keep parents and kids safe. Our hearts go out to those parents and families. It’s what we’re all about,” said Rob Ballew, executive director of Family YMCA of the Desert.

Ballew said Cathedral City police notified him last weekend they were investigating Thomas and allegations of improper touching with children in after-school and summer programs.

Ballew said the ‘Y’ closed down sites where Thomas worked with kids.

“We let him know the sites were closed. We didn’t say anything (about the investigation),” said Ballew.

Police arrested Thomas on Thursday after picking him up outside his job at the Winco market in Indio.

Thomas started at the YMCA back in November.

But it’s not the only contact he’s had with children as a volunteer.

Thomas was also matched up with a young boy for Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Desert.

“None of the children in our program have been harmed in any way, to our knowledge,” said Executive Director Judy May.

Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Desert terminated the relationship with Thomas earlier this month, but May said it had nothing to do with the current investigation or any inappropriate contact.

May and Ballew say thorough background checks were done on Thomas — and showed no criminal history.

“We’ve talked with staff and different people and there were no signs of this,” said Ballew.

Meanwhile, investigators are trying to find out if there are more victims.

Thomas is due back in court on Friday.

KESQ News Team


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