By Kent Faulk
BIRMINGHAM - A former Tuscaloosa Police sergeant was sentenced to 10 years in prison this afternoon for his guilty plea to depriving a woman of her civil rights related to a sexual assault of a woman in March 2011.
Jason Glenn Thomas, 35, is to report to prison on Oct. 23 to begin serving the sentence, U.S. District Court Judge David Proctor ordered after imposing the sentence. The hearing was held at the Hugo L. Black U.S. Courthouse in Birmingham.
Proctor said he agreed that the crime is "despicable" and was a situation "where the judiciary must speak and not stutter" on what is sufficient but not greater than necessary sentence.
The unidentified victim of the sexual assault spoke to Proctor before he pronounced the sentence. "This has affected my life - every aspect of my life," she said.
The woman, who has a civil lawsuit pending against Thomas, also told the judge Thomas should not be allowed to use his authority to victimize her or anyone else again.
Assistant U.S. Attorney George Martin also told the judge before sentencing that Thomas committed a premeditated crime - turning off his body recorder, positioning her outside of the video recorder before raping her. Thomas also threatened the woman with jail. "This was a premeditated abuse of trust ... It's beyond comprehension that a law enforcement officer would do that," he said.
According to court documents filed in connection with his guilty plea, Thomas admitted that while on duty shortly after midnight on March 27, 2011, he stopped and detained a female pedestrian without placing her under arrest. Thomas then transported the woman in his department issued patrol vehicle to a remote area and sexually assaulted her, according to a previous statement from federal authorities.
Martin said a 10-year sentence would send a message others in law enforcement.
Thomas told the judge that he would accept the punishment Proctor dispensed. "I never intended to be here. ... I take full responsibility for what I did. I sincerely apologize," he said.
Defense attorneys Joel Sogol and Tommy Spina represented Thomas and noted his 15-year career in law enforcement.
Martin had asked that Thomas' bond be revoked today and that he be placed in jail until the Federal Bureau of Prisons designated a prison for him. But Spina told the judge that one concern is that Thomas could be in danger if placed in the general population of a jail with inmate who he may have had contact with as a police officer.
- Yes he would be in danger, but how ironic that this is never considered when it's the average citizen who has been convicted of a sexual crime!