SOMERSET, Pa. (AP) — 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 once-trusted public official elected to protect citizens from the types of despicable acts he inflicted on the victim.”