District attorney charged with rape

SOMERSET COUNTY, Pa. — A district attorney for Somerset County, Pennsylvania, is facing charges himself.

State Police troopers arrested Jeffrey Lynn Thomas Wednesday, charging him with rape, indecent assault, strangulation, simple assault and criminal trespass, WPXI reported.

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Troopers alleged Thomas entered a woman’s home on Sept. 18 without permission and would not leave, WJAC reported.

DEVELOPING: He’s accused of going into the woman’s home without permission before sexually and physically assaulting her while her child was there.

Posted by WPXI-TV Pittsburgh on Thursday, September 23, 2021

Officials said Thomas reportedly sexually and physically assaulted the woman while her child was home at the time of the alleged attack, WPXI reported.

WPXI reported the woman knew Thomas through her employer and she said he’d been making sexual advances toward her for years that she had repeatedly declined.

Court documents said Thomas showed up at the woman’s home after sending her a message on Snapchat, The Tribune-Democrat reported. The woman said Thomas arrived at her home with several cans of beer, according to the newspaper.

Officers said she slapped him before he hit her back, causing her nose to bleed. Troopers said Thomas held the woman down and he removed his clothing, WPXI reported.

He left after she told him she would not call the police, state troopers wrote in the criminal complaint, The Tribune-Democrat reported.

She contacted the police and the investigation started Tuesday. Law enforcement searched the woman’s home and seized clothing she had been wearing before the alleged assault happened and several cans of beer, according to the newspaper.

The woman also said Thomas used marijuana at her home, but the complaint did not state if it was on the night of the alleged incident or at a different time, the newspaper reported.

Thomas is being held in a neighboring county’s prison on $5,000 bail, WJAC reported.

Thomas’ attorney, Ryan Tutera, said “Jeffrey has worked very hard to protect the rights of victims in Somerset County and it’s hard for me to believe these allegations are true. We believe there’s more to this story than what is being told.”

Thomas was sworn in as Somerset County’s district attorney in 2020. This is the third time he’s been accused of misconduct while in office, The Tribune-Democrat reported.

In October 2020, the county maintenance staff had found empty boxes of beer and beer cans in his office, breaking the county’s Drug and Alcohol-Free Workplace Policy.

Thomas said the policy didn’t apply to him after he was given a letter by the county’s human resources director about his violation.

At the time, he claimed he was being harassed by memos and warnings by county officials, “I don’t disagree that it’s an issue if someone is intoxicated beyond the legal limit, but it’s another thing if you’re acting responsibly,” he said.

He had, at the time of the discovery, been asking for additional staff for his office.

That same month, police in a neighboring community filed a summary citation, including harassment, after an altercation that involved Thomas, workers at a gymnastics facility and a pizzeria during his daughter’s birthday party, The Tribune-Democrat reported. He had been upset that the pizzas he had ordered for the party didn’t arrive in time, but said that he was not guilty. He apologized to both businesses and charges in that case were withdrawn.