Woman sentenced on child sex charges; was victim herself, attorney says

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

A York County judge on Tuesday sentenced a woman to county jail after she pleaded guilty to having sex with teen boys. Her attorney also told the court that she was a past victim of sex abuse. 

President Judge Maria Musti Cook sentenced Lauren Ray Thomas, 32, of Hanover, to a term of six to 23 months of incarceration in York County Prison. Thomas also will be on probation for three years after she's released. 

Thomas pleaded guilty in March to one count of first-degree felony statutory sexual assault and two counts of third-degree felony unlawful contact with a minor. The plea was an open plea, meaning it wasn't part of a negotiation with prosecutors, but prosecutors did withdraw all of her other charges after her plea, including counts of child pornography and corrupting minors. 

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The hearing: At the sentencing hearing Tuesday morning, Thomas' attorney, Rick Robinson, argued for leniency for his client. 

"From the very, very beginning ... she cooperated and acknowledged her involvement and accepted responsibility," Robinson said. "She has no prior (criminal) record."

Robinson said that Thomas, who had been free on supervised bail pending her court date, had not violated any terms of her bail. 

Thomas herself also spoke during the hearing. She read a statement apologizing for her actions. 

"I'd like to apologize to the victims, their families, my family and all I've wronged," she said. "To the victims: I'm sorry to put you through the distress that I have." 

Robinson said Thomas was victimized herself as a teenager — though he clarified that he was not attempting to use that fact to excuse Thomas' actions. 

First Deputy District Attorney Kara Bowser told the judge that the victims "wanted accountability" from Thomas and believed county jail time would suffice. 

Cook said prior to sentencing Thomas that she had reviewed a victim impact statement from the mother of one victim. No victims offered statements during the hearing. 

As a part of the sentence, Thomas must register as a sex offender for life and have no contact with the victims. Cook did allow Thomas to have supervised contact with her own minor children. 

Thomas' sentence will begin on Aug. 6.