Attorneys deliver opening statements in sexual assault trial of suspended Somerset County DA

Mar. 8—SOMERSET, Pa. — Attorneys on both sides of suspended Somerset County District Attorney Jeffrey Thomas' sexual assault case delivered opening statements Wednesday about the night of Sept. 19, 2021.

Prosecutors said Thomas pursued a Windber woman for months with inappropriate texts before walking into her apartment in September 2021, biting her chest and then sexually assaulting her while her child was asleep upstairs.

And state senior deputy Attorney General Patrick Schulte said "words and witnesses" — including Thomas' own words — will prove it.

"She told him do not come to my residence," he said, adding that she also later told him "No" means "No" after he climbed on top of her.

But Thomas' defense described the case as one of "inconsistencies" and falsehoods from an untrustworthy accuser who "destroyed evidence" and grew marijuana in her basement.

"This (case) is about how one person's lie can ruin another persons," defense Attorney Ryan Tutera said.

"These claims are ridiculous."

Both sides outlined cases that they suggested will often rely on text and SnapChat messages and police-recorded conversations between Thomas and his accuser several days after the night state police say the woman was assaulted.

Court-appointed Senior Judge Timothy Creany instructed the jurors early Wednesday that they'll likely hear evidence and arguments in the case through early next week before being permitted to deliberate on the charges against Thomas.

Thomas faces eight sex-related criminal charges, including sexual assault, aggravated indecent assault and strangulation.

He had his law license suspended in late 2021, and by law is barred from overseeing the Somerset County District Attorney's Office.

Check back for additional information on this developing story.