Former Dover Twp. woman pleads guilty to having sex with 2 teens, sexting 3rd

Liz Evans Scolforo
York Dispatch
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A former Dover Township woman has pleaded guilty to having sexual contact with two teenage boys and sexting a third.

Lauren Ray Thomas, 32, of Hanover, pleaded guilty Thursday in York County Court to the first-degree felony of statutory sexual assault — which was the most serious count lodged against her — and two counts of unlawful contact with a minor, which are third-degree felonies, according to court records.

Thomas must undergo an assessment by the state's Sexual Offender Assessment Board, which is standard for defendants who plead guilty or are found guilty of sexual offenses.

Sentencing was set for July 6 by presiding Common Pleas President Judge Maria Musti Cook.

Thomas remains free on unsecured bail and her bail conditions include having no contact with any minors except when the court makes an exception.

Her bail conditions forbid her from having contact with anyone at Dover Area School District and forbid her from attending school events and activities. Court documents don't identify where the teens she offended against attend school, but this bail condition strongly suggests Dover Area students were involved.

It was a open plea, meaning there is no agreed-on sentence with prosecutors, records state. However, prosecutors did agree to withdraw her remaining charges at sentencing in exchange for her plea to three counts. The counts expected to be withdrawn include possession of child pornography, corruption of minors and additional counts of unlawful contact with minors.

Lauren Thomas leaves District Judge David Eshbach's office following her arraignment, Wednesday, December 4, 2019.
John A. Pavoncello photo

On Thursday, defense attorney Rick Robinson declined comment until after his client is sentenced.

Chief deputy prosecutor Kara Bowser is unable to comment while sentencing is pending, according to the York County District Attorney's Office.

The background: At her preliminary arraignment on Dec. 19, 2019, she and Robinson told District Judge David Eshbach that Thomas doesn't abuse drugs or alcohol, is a lifelong resident of York County, is in therapy related to her charges and accepts responsibility for her actions.

Northern York County Regional Police Detective Stephen Lebo investigated and determined Thomas and a 16-year-old boy sexted each other nude photos and videos.

Police obtained records from Snapchat indicating that she and the teen exchanged more than 1,200 photos and 14 videos between Aug. 16, 2019, and Sept. 13, 2019, documents state.

Thomas deleted her "miss.ray12" Snapchat account on Sept. 15, 2019, police said.

The teen told police Thomas wanted to have sex with him but that he made excuses as to why he couldn't meet her, according to court documents.

While being interviewed by police on Sept. 20, 2019, Thomas gave investigators the name of a second teen and said she'd had sex with him in the summer of 2018, documents state.

More:Former Dover Twp. woman accused of having sex with 2 teens, sexting a third

That youth told police he was 15 years old when he heard through a friend that Thomas thought he was "cute," which prompted him to get her phone number and start texting with her, police said.

"(Victim 2) advised that L. Thomas soon started sending fully body nude photographs of herself to him via text message," documents state.

The youth said that about a week after they started communicating, they met in person and started having sex, according to court documents.

He said that they had sex twice a week for several months until he stopped communicating with her, documents allege.

Lauren Thomas leaves District Judge David Eshbach's office following her arraignment, Wednesday, December 4, 2019.
John A. Pavoncello photo

Third teen: In October 2019, Thomas called police and told them there was a third teen with whom she had sex, police said.

Officers then spoke with that teen, who confirmed he and Thomas exchanged nude photos from the early months of 2019 until about July and that they had sex on one occasion in April 2019, court documents state. He was 16 years old at the time, police said.

Investigators examined the teen's cellphone and found 171 photos and videos that Thomas and the teen texted to each other, "many of which contained fully nude photographs of both L. Thomas and (victim 3)," court documents state.

The text exchanges happened between May and August 2019, according to police.

No involvement: Thomas' estranged husband, West York Police Officer Ryan Thomas, was an assistant coach for Dover Area High School's football program for a portion of 2019.

He filed for divorce from her in September 2019, around the same time Northern Regional Police began investigating Lauren Thomas, according to court records.

Northern Regional Police Chief Dave Lash has said Ryan Thomas had nothing to do with his wife's crimes, was unaware of them and cooperated with the police investigation into them.

West York Police Chief Matt Millsaps has said he also looked into whether his patrol officer was involved in any way with Lauren Thomas' case, and that he also determined Ryan Thomas wasn't suspected of, or involved in, any wrongdoing "or anything that could affect his status as an officer."

— Reach senior crime reporter Liz Evans Scolforo at levans@yorkdispatch.com or on Twitter at @LizScolforoYD.