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CROWN POINT — A Gary man was charged with child molesting Saturday after a woman told police she walked in on him as he raped her preteen daughter, court records say.

Clifton J. Thomas, 38, formally pleaded not guilty Thursday during an in-custody appearance before Lake Criminal Court Judge Salvador Vasquez. 

Thomas' bond was set at $50,000 surety or $5,000 cash. At the request of public defender Benjamen Murphy, Vasquez set a bail review hearing for May 2. 

The girl's mother told police she left her daughter in Thomas' care April 18 but decided to return to her Gary home a short time later. When she arrived, she found the girl's bedroom door locked and used a fork to open it, court records say.

The woman entered the room and saw Thomas naked and halfway off the bed and her daughter naked from the waist down under a cover, records allege.

The girl told police Thomas was raping her and stopped when he heard her mother outside the bedroom door, records say.

The alleged sexual abuse "was a daily basis thing" when her mother was away, the girl told police.

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