Daily Local News (West Chester, PA)

Prosecutor jailed after conviction in attack on woman


SOMERSET, PA. >> A western Pennsylvan­ia county prosecutor was in jail Friday after jurors convicted him of six charges for an attack on a woman while acquitting him of sexual assault and aggravated indecent assault.

The verdict against suspended Somerset County District Attorney Jeffrey L. Thomas was issued Thursday after less than three hours of deliberati­ons.

Thomas, 37, was found guilty of strangulat­ion and criminal trespassin­g, both felonies, and simple assault, unlawful restraint, indecent assault and false imprisonme­nt. He was also acquitted of a second simple assault count.

Thomas’ lawyer, Ryan Tutera, said Friday that jurors issued an inconsiste­nt verdict and that pretrial evidentiar­y rulings may be a grounds for appeal. Tutera said the defense team was pleased that “the most serious charges, he was acquitted of. We view that as a victory.”

Police said the woman told investigat­ors Thomas repeatedly contacted her over several years to seek a sexual relationsh­ip and would drive around her house. After he sent her a message saying he was headed to her home, she told him to stay away, according to the arrest affidavit.

Thomas showed up at her home and she told him to leave, and the physical attack followed, police said.

Cambria County officials said Friday that Thomas was in county jail. His sentencing is scheduled for May.

Thomas was charged with various offenses for the September 2021 attack on the woman, a female acquaintan­ce, at her home in Windber. The victim testified against him, and Thomas did not take the stand.

Thomas, a Republican elected in 2019, was suspended after charges were filed, and his pay was subsequent­ly halted under a new state law. His law license was suspended in October 2021, and the office is being run by an acting district attorney.

After the verdict, Pennsylvan­ia Attorney General Michelle Henry called Thomas’ crime “absolutely abhorrent, even more disturbing because it was perpetrate­d by a oncetruste­d public official elected to protect citizens from the types of despicable acts he inflicted on the victim.”

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