Pennsylvania prosecutor takes leave to address rape charges

Somerset County District Attorney Jeffrey Thomas is shown during an interview in Johnstown, PA., Wednesday, Jan.15, 2021.   Thomas was charged Wednesday, Sept. 22, with violently raping a woman he knew through work, leaving her home only after she told him she would not call police, authorities said. (Todd Berkey/The Tribune-Democrat via AP)

Officials in a rural western Pennsylvania county say the elected prosecutor's access to his office and the courthouse has been restricted after he was charged last month with violently raping a woman he knew through work.

Somerset County District Attorney Jeffrey Lynn Thomas, 36, was accused last month of having attacked the woman in her Windber home. He was charged with rape, indecent and simple assault, strangulation and criminal trespassing.

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County Solicitor Michael Barbera told The (Johnstown) Tribune Democrat that Thomas can no longer use a remote “key fob” to enter the building through side doors or after hours. Instead, he must use the main public entrance with metal detectors and scanners and staffed by sheriff’s deputies, he said.

Barbera says that since Thomas is charged with felonies he no longer has access to a law enforcement database.

The Republican said he is planning to plead not guilty and fight the charges in court. He told reporters Friday through his attorney that he's taking a leave of absence to focus on his case.

His lawyer also told reporters Friday that “there’s much more to this story than meets the eye.”

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