Prosecutor Accused Of Sexual Assault Loses Pay Under New Law

SOMERSET, Pa. (AP) — A prosecutor accused of sexual assault lost his public salary and benefits by a vote of Somerset County's salary board.

Somerset County District Attorney Jeffrey Lynn Thomas will no longer collect his $185,000 salary, which for now goes to acting District Attorney Molly Metzgar.

The move Tuesday was in response to a change in state law that now requires district attorneys to hold an active law license, the Johnstown Tribune-Democrat reported. His law license was temporarily suspended by the state Supreme Court on Oct. 27.

The county solicitor says the next move depends on what happens before the state Supreme Court, which has the final say about Pennsylvania law licenses. A Republican, Thomas was elected two years ago.

Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf on Nov. 17 signed into law a bill that passed the General Assembly unanimously deeming the office of district attorney vacant when an incumbent district attorney is disbarred. If their law license is only suspended, as is currently the case for Thomas, they are suspended from office until the license is restored or their term expires.

Thomas, 36, of Windber, faces charges that include sexual assault and false imprisonment.

Earlier this year, the district attorney in Bradford County, Chad Salsman, had planned to continue serving as the county’s top prosecutor while his own case was pending for pressuring clients for sex when he was a defense attorney and then coercing them to keep quiet about it.

Salsman turned over trial and courtroom duties to subordinates. But he subsequently pleaded guilty to charges of witness intimidation, promoting prostitution and obstruction of justice and resigned.

In Thomas' case, county officials had said his access to the office and the courthouse were previously restricted. He has maintained his innocence and awaits trial.

An attorney for Thomas, Holly Whalen, declined immediate comment.