Former Somerset County District Attorney Sentenced to Prison For Attacking a Woman

FILE: Former Somerset County D.A. Jeffrey Thomas arrives for a preliminary hearing at the Somerset County Courthouse in Somerset, Pa. on Oct. 21, 2021. (Todd Berkey/The Tribune-Democrat via AP)

By Patrick Berkery

August 18, 2023

Jeffrey Thomas, a Republican, was found guilty of multiple charges including strangulation, criminal trespassing, and false imprisonment.

SOMERSET — A former Somerset County district attorney was sentenced Thursday to up to seven years in prison after a jury convicted him of attacking a woman in her home.

Jeffrey Thomas was sentenced to between just over two years to seven years in prison after a jury found him guilty earlier this year of strangulation and criminal trespassing, both felonies, and simple assault, unlawful restraint, indecent assault and false imprisonment. He was acquitted of sexual assault and aggravated indecent assault.

Thomas, 37, a Republican, is required to register with police as a sex offender for 15 years, the state attorney general’s office said.

Thomas’ attorney, Ryan M. Tutera, said in a phone interview Thursday they consider the sentence to be too high but that it could have been more “devastating” had he not been acquitted of several charges. Tutera said Thomas maintains he’s innocent of the charges.

Defense lawyers say Thomas intends to appeal, citing evidence that was barred from the proceedings.

“We were hoping to see him come home,” Tutera said. “Had the jury heard everything about the case, I feel confident they would have come to a different conclusion.”

The charges stemmed from a September 2021 incident in which, police said, a woman told investigators Thomas repeatedly contacted her over several years to seek a sexual relationship and would drive around her Windber home.

According to the arrest affidavit, on the night of the attack, Thomas sent her a Snapchat message saying he would be at her home in minutes, to which she responded he was not welcome and to stay away. Shortly afterward, he walked uninvited into her home with several beer cans and handed her one, police said.

She repeatedly told him to leave and slapped him, police said. He then struck her face, causing her nose to bleed, then pulled down her top and undressed himself, according to the affidavit.

“During the assault, Thomas grabbed her by the neck making it hard to breath(e),” investigators alleged.

When she demanded he leave, he grabbed her by the hair and asked if she planned to contact the police. He left when she said she would not, police said.

In May, a Somerset County judge dismissed a defamation lawsuit filed by Thomas’ wife against the woman he was convicted of assaulting.

Thomas faces unrelated charges of simple assault, reckless endangerment, and harassment after state police alleged that he was seen on a video call punching a woman as the two rode in a vehicle in May 2021.

He was elected in 2019 but was suspended after charges in the sexual assault case were filed.

Information from the Associated Press was used in this report.


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