SOMERSET, Pa. — Pennsylvania State Police troopers arrested the Somerset County District Attorney in September on charges of rape, indecent assault, strangulation, simple assault and criminal trespass.
Since then, the Commonwealth has added charges of sexual assault and aggravated indecent assault.
Troopers began the investigation into Jeffrey Lynn Thomas after an incident was reported in Windber Borough. Investigators determined Thomas entered the home of the victim, a woman with whom he was acquainted, without permission and refused to leave. He then reportedly sexually and physically assaulted the woman while her child was in the home.
“The charges this defendant is facing for a violent attack are deeply disturbing. Mr. Thomas is entrusted by the public to uphold the law and serve as a voice for victims. I commend the bravery of the victim that has come forward — that is never an easy thing to do, especially when your abuser is a powerful elected official. Today is a reminder that no one is above the law,” said Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro.
If convicted of on all charges, he will face a maximum of 50 years in prison.
Court documents obtained by Channel 11 indicate the victim knew Thomas through her employer and that he had been making sexual advances toward her for years. She reportedly declined a relationship with him repeatedly.
When Thomas showed up, court papers said the woman slapped him and he hit her back, causing a nose bleed. Police said Thomas held the victim down and took his clothes off.
Thomas is scheduled to appear in court next week.
“Very shocking, very sad and I pray for this woman,” Shannon Boyle said.
“A lot of disappointment, a lot of anger, especially the females in the community. People like him are supposed to be protecting us,” said Heather Livingston.
Victim Services Inc., an organization that helps victims in Somerset County sent Channel 11 a statement:
“Victim Services Inc. today learned that the State Police have filed charges against Somerset County District Attorney Jeffery Thomas for crimes of sexual violence. There is no place in our communities for sexual violence in any form—especially at the hands of individuals in positions of power. We commend the State Police for taking appropriate action once the victim came forward. Sexual violence thrives in silence. When communities and institutions fail to act, fail to believe victims, or defend the behavior or character of the alleged perpetrator, it sends a message that the community will excuse sexual violence. We are proud to say that is not the case in our community. It is the responsibility of us as a community to believe survivors and also be clear that sexually violent behavior is not acceptable at any level. That commitment helps victims feel safer to come forward or reach out for help and support. We extend our support to the victim who came forward—and any other survivors of sexual violence and other crimes who may be out there. To all survivors and their loved ones, Victim Services Inc. is here to provide support 24/7. For more information or to speak with a counselor, call 1-800-755-1983.”
©2021 Cox Media Group