North Carolina

Church group leader used drugs to ‘groom’ NC boy he sexually abused, officials say

The leader of a North Carolina church group used drugs to control a boy he sexually abused for years, officials say.

Now, the Roxboro man has been ordered to serve 40 years in prison following the abuse that lasted from 2013 to 2016, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of North Carolina announced Wednesday.

It started when Andre Alan Thorpe, now 36, encouraged a child to be in a Durham-area pantomime troupe, according to a document filed last week in federal court.

The groups were meant to offer at-risk kids a “wholesome activity as a counterpoint to the many challenges some faced in their lives,” court records say.

But “using his position as a leader of a church pantomime group, Thorpe developed a relationship with the victim and then used drugs and manipulation to groom and control the victim,” the federal government said in a news release.

Thorpe had the child sleep at his house and accompany him at events, using the “unsupervised time to drug and sexually molest” him over and over again, the U.S. government says in a motion that argues the church leader deserves a four-decade sentence.

The boy and his mom moved to Georgia, “in part to escape Thorpe,” according to records.

Even after the family left, Thorpe helped the boy return to North Carolina twice, the U.S. Attorney’s Office release says.

One of those times in 2016, he “took the victim to a Raleigh residence, where he had sexual contact with the victim and photographed it,” according to the release. The victim was 16 years old at the time.

Officials say they later found those photos on Thorpe’s cellphone.

Thorpe in May pleaded guilty to possession and production of child porn, the government says. He will be supervised after he gets out of prison, officials say.

Roxboro is about 30 miles north of Durham.

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