East Coast Rapist Aaron Thomas to Serve Life in Prison
A Prince William County judge sentenced Thomas to three life sentences for raping Dale City teenagers in 2009.
Aaron Thomas, the man who has admitted raping women along the East Coast for decades, was sentenced on Friday to life in prison for raping two Dale City teenagers and abducting another, as they were trick-or-treating on Halloween night 2009.
Thomas, 41, sat without expression in Prince William County Circuit Court as Judge Mary Grace O'Brien sentenced him to three life terms and two suspended 40-year prison sentences.
"You took a lot more than sex from these girls. You took their sense of security. You took their innocence," O'Brien said.
The bulk of the arguments during the nearly two-hour hearing had to do with Thomas' mental state. The defense argued without success that Thomas suffered from a number of mental disorders and had been abused as a child, so that should pose a mitigating factor.
Dr. Mark Hastings, an expert witness for the defense, who evaluated Thomas, testified that though Thomas clearly had a range of issues, he was legally competent.
Commonwealth's Attorney Paul Ebert said that Thomas knew what he was doing when he raped the girls (charges which Thomas pleaded guilty to in December). He said that Thomas tried to avoid responsibility for the acts by pretending he had multiple personality disorder—blaming the acts on an alter ego, "Erwin."
"What caused him to be what he is, I can't say is much concern...He's not legally insane," Ebert said. "He's responsible for his acts."
"He tried to deviate and manipulate the legal process," Ebert added.
Two of the victims spoke at the hearing. They said that while they forgave Thomas for what he had done, they did not think he should be allowed back on the street.
One woman, 17 at the time of the attack, said that she was afraid to leave the house afterwards.
"I want to say to Mr. Thomas that I forgive you, even though you hurt me really bad," she said, looking at Thomas as he stared at the table, his head hanging low. "I forgive you."
The mother of another woman also spoke, saying that her daughter still suffered from the trauma of the attack.
"It's changed her attitude about life," she said. "She's always really excited, really happy. After she was raped, she just shut down."
The three teenage girls were attacked as they were walking home from trick-or-treating. They were cutting across a shopping center parking lot when Thomas pulled out a lighter that looked like a gun and asked if they had money, according to court documents.
When the girls said they did not, Thomas ordered them to a wooded area behind the store, and told them to drop their bags full of candy. He then took them to a clearing down a hill, where he told them to lie face down on the ground. He sexually assaulted the two 17-year-old victims, but the 16-year-old was able to text her mother from the scene.
Thomas still faces sentencing later this month in Loudoun County Circuit Court on additional rape charges. Investigators spent years investigating the rapes in states along the East Coast, and he was eventually arrested in March 2011. Authorities believe he is connected to 17 rapes; 12 of which Thomas has been tied to based on DNA evidence, Ebert said.
Before he was sentenced Friday, Thomas spoke for several minutes in a memorized speech, calling himself "a pathetic, unscrupulous, lowlife figure."
The judge agreed.
"You are not insane, you are not incompetent to stand trial, and you knew what you were doing is wrong," O'Brien told Thomas.
This post has been updated.