Thomas still Somerset DA despite arrest; county prosecutor faces allegations of rape, assault

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Sep. 24—WINDBER — Somerset County District Attorney Jeffrey Lynn Thomas is not legally required to resign or temporarily step aside from his position after...
being arrested and arraigned Wednesday on rape and other charges.

Thomas, 36, also faces charges of indecent assault, strangulation, simple assault and criminal trespass that stem from an alleged incident at a residence in Windber Borough on Sept. 18.

Thomas, who is paid $185,664 annually, was still Somerset County's district attorney as of Thursday.

The Disciplinary Board of the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania could investigate him.

"It seems to me that one of two things will happen, maybe both," said Bruce Ledewitz, a Duquesne University School of Law professor. "One is, the district attorney himself says, 'With serious charges pending, I'm stepping aside and turning the running of the office over to my deputy until the matters are resolved.' He, of course, can do that, and he has the advantage of retaining his salary. ... Or he might be suspended by the Disciplinary Board."

Ledewitz added: "In terms of attorney discipline, you're eligible to be DA until you are disbarred — and you would never be disbarred, of course, on mere allegations."

Pennsylvania law states: "If the district attorney is convicted of any crime for which that individual may be sentenced to imprisonment by separate or solitary confinement at labor, the office shall be declared vacant by the court."

The Pennsylvania Senate could consider impeachment.

"It's either the Senate impeaches him or the Pennsylvania Supreme Court would rule he can't hold the office," Cambria County Solicitor William Barbin said.

The Somerset County commissioners issued a brief statement about the matter, saying they were aware Thomas had "serious charges pending against him," but since it was a criminal matter they had "no substantive comment to offer at this time."

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'Serious charges'

The Pennsylvania State Police investigation into Thomas began on Tuesday.

The alleged victim knew Thomas in a "professional capacity for several years," according to the police report. She indicated that her…
Dave Sutor, The Tribune-Democrat, Johnstown, Pa.
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