Former legislator now must register as a sex offender

Published 12:29am Saturday, November 3, 2012

CAMDEN — Former State Rep. James Thomas has been convicted of a charge of a school employee having sexual contact with a student who was then 17 and has been placed in the Wilcox County Jail.

Wilcox County Circuit Court Judge Jack Meigs has scheduled Thomas’ sentencing for Thursday, Dec. 13.

The jury of 11 women and three men were given the case Thursday afternoon and deliberated until they were sent home yesterday evening. They came back Friday morning and then issued their decision.

“This is again proof that no one is above the law,” District Attorney Michael Jackson who oversaw Thomas’ prosecution said. “When the verdict was read you could see the shock on his face, and you heard the victim and her family celebrate.”

Jackson said the conviction is a misdemeanor, but Thomas must now register as a sex offender and will not be allowed to work in the school system or in any capacity where children are involved.

The charge does carry a maximum sentence of up to 12 months in jail, which Jackson said he will be asking for during the sentencing hearing.

The victim testified Wednesday that Thomas, who was then principal at Wilcox Central High School in November 2010, called her into his private office, asked her about several boys and told her “remember you are mine.”

According to Associated Press reports, the victim said Thomas took her hand and placed it on “his private parts.” She also said that at one point, he grabbed the back of her neck and pulled himself toward her.

“He grabbed my hair and rubbed,” she said.

Thomas was a representative for Wilcox and three other counties, including Dallas County, in the Legislature for 28 years before his defeat in the 2010 Democratic primary, which took place before the day described by the woman. The Wilcox County Board of Education voted to fire Thomas in late July of 2011 after a grand jury indicted him on charges of third-degree sexual abuse and having sexual contact with a student under the age of 19.

Current State Rep. David Colston defeated Thomas, and three others, in the June 2012 party primaries to win the seat he now holds. Colston earned 51 percent of the vote to win the election without a runoff. Thomas finished with 32 percent, ending his three decades of service in the House.

— The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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