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Man Suspected In East Coast Rapes Indicted In Va.

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WASHINGTON (AP) — A Connecticut man who police believe is responsible for a series of rapes along the East Coast has been indicted in Virginia and could stand trial as soon as this summer.

A grand jury in Prince William County returned an indictment Tuesday charging Aaron H. Thomas, 40, with abducting three teenage trick-or-treaters at gunpoint on Halloween 2009 and raping two of them.

The indictment includes two counts of rape, three counts of abduction with intent to defile and three counts of use of a
firearm during a commission of a felony, said Prince William County Commonwealth’s Attorney Paul Ebert. The rape and abduction charges carry maximum sentences of life imprisonment, he said.

A trial is scheduled for July 31.

Thomas was arrested last March in his hometown of New Haven and pleaded not guilty to a charge of raping a woman in 2007.

Authorities have said DNA confirms that he’s responsible for more than a dozen rapes and other attacks, starting in 1997, from Virginia to Connecticut. Connecticut officials agreed in November to extradite Thomas to Virginia, where he is scheduled to stand trial first, after Ebert argued that the cases in his state were particularly heinous.

The indictment accuses Thomas of abducting the three teenagers in the Woodbridge area on October 31, 2009 and sexually assaulting two 17-year-olds. The third victim, age 16, was able to send a text message to her mother seeking help, and the attacker was forced to flee as police lights and sirens approached. The girls testified about the attacks at a preliminary hearing last month.

“They did a good job of describing what happened to them,” Ebert said in an interview Tuesday. “At that point in time, they were very poised.”

A police sergeant also testified at the preliminary that Thomas confessed to the Halloween rapes after he his arrest, but only after complaining that a police sketch failed to depict him properly. The judge found Thomas competent to stand trial after a court-ordered evaluation concluded that he was faking insanity.

(Copyright 2012 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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