Criminal Justice

DA is charged with rape and strangulation of acquaintance at her home

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A district attorney in a rural county southeast of Pittsburgh was arrested Wednesday for allegedly raping a woman he knew in his professional capacity.

Somerset County District Attorney Jeffrey Lynn Thomas, 36, was charged with rape, indecent and simple assault, strangulation and criminal trespass, report the Associated Press, the Tribune-Democrat, the Daily American, the Daily Beast and the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. A press release is here.

The woman told police that Thomas had sought a sexual relationship for years and would routinely drive around her house, according to a police probable cause affidavit cited in the news coverage. She said Thomas showed up at her home uninvited on Saturday after he contacted her on Snapchat.

Police said Thomas walked into her home carrying several cans of beer. The woman said she slapped Thomas when he would not leave, and he responded by striking her in the face and raping her. During the assault, he allegedly grabbed the woman’s neck, making it hard to breathe.

Thomas left after the woman said she would not call police, the affidavit said.

Thomas’ lawyer, Ryan Tutera, said his client is innocent. “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,” Tutera told the Tribune-Democrat. “We believe there’s more to this story than what is being told.”

Tutera told the Associated Press that Thomas’ wife was working to get him bailed out of jail in Cambria County.

Thomas, a Republican, took office in January 2020, according to the Daily Beast.

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