SOMERSET COUNTY, Pa (WTAJ) —The Somerset County district attorney was taken into custody Wednesday and faces serious sexual assault charges, including rape.
Jeffery Thomas, 36, of Windber faces charges after an incident that happened on Sept. 18 at a residence in Windber Borough where he physically and sexually assaulted a woman, according to state police. He posted bail Thursday afternoon.
Police investigated a sexual assault report in the Windber Borough that happened approximately at 11:30 p.m. on Sept. 18. After interviewing the woman, police learned that Thomas contacted her with the social media app, Snapchat.
Thomas reportedly messaged the woman through Snapchat late Saturday night and she told investigators he had a habit of getting in touch with her and to start a sexual relationship periodically over the past several years. She rebuffed his advances and she was told by a former partner he would drive around her neighborhood.
On Sept. 18, Thomas entered the woman’s house after he sent a Snapchat message saying that he was going to arrive in a few minutes. She responded by saying that Thomas was not welcomed into the house. Minutes later Thomas walked into the house holding cans of beer, according to a statement from the woman.
After repeatedly telling Thomas he was not allowed to remain in the house, the woman reportedly slapped him. Police say Thomas then hit her in the face and caused her nose to bleed. Thomas would then proceed to sexually and physically assault her.
The woman was able to push Thomas off and ran to the second floor of the house. When she came back downstairs, she said Thomas was seen masturbating on the couch.
After she told Thomas to leave again, he reportedly grabbed her by the hair and neck and asked if she was going to call the police. The woman told Thomas if he would leave then the police would not be called. Thomas then left the house.
On Sept. 21 police then made a search of the home and found the cans of beer and clothing that the victim was wearing prior to the assault.
“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,” said Attorney General Josh Shapiro. “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.”
The Somerset Board of Commissioners released a statement saying they are aware of the charges pending against Thomas but offered no additional comment.
This is not the first time that Thomas has had incidents with the law. In October of 2020, Thomas also faced charges of disorderly conduct and harassment.
Pittsburgh-based defense attorney Ryan M. Tutera, representing Thomas, said, “Right now, these are allegations.
“Jeffrey is entitled to the presumption of innocence. He’s entitled to fairness. He’s entitled to due process. We ask the public not to come to any conclusion about the matter and allow him to have a fair determination of these allegations.”
Tutera also spoke with WTAJ that people can say a lot of things, but what he is most interested in is what they say when they are on the stand to testify.
“People can say a lot of things, people can come forward and claim to be victims and say things happen, they can say that to the news, to the police, they can say that to a variety of different individuals however I’m not interested in what they’re saying to the papers or police I’m interested in what they’re going to testify to in the stand.”
Tutera also said about if the incident happened on Saturday then why are there allegations at the end of the week.
“What’s interesting and curious to me is that if this happened on a Saturday and we’re now at the end of the week with allegations and charges being brought on a Wednesday.”
Thomas faces charges of rape, indecent assault, strangulation, simple assault, and criminal trespass and currently awaits a preliminary hearing scheduled for Sept. 29.
He currently resides in Cambria County Prison with a monetary bail value set at $5,000.