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giovedì 2 marzo 2017
Victims speak out about abuse by serial child rapist
Their names were found scrawled on William Thomas’ shed in his own hand, with details about what he had done to them.
The two sisters, identified by authorities as JM and JS, were about 7 and 4 when Thomas began abusing them while babysitting. Now 26 and 23, they are two of six victims of Thomas, a Falls Township, Bucks County, handyman who was arrested last month on charges of child sexual assault.
On Wednesday, the sisters spoke publicly about the abuse they say they suffered as children and urged other victims to come forward.
“I had a long debate as to whether or not I wanted to do this, but I feel as though not enough people come forward and speak up in situations like these, and that is what makes it possible for these horrible predators to get away with these situations for so long,” JS said at a news conference in Jamison at the office of the Network of Victim Assistance (NOVA).
“I want women all over the world to find courage, like I did, to speak up, to get the justice they deserve, and to put predators like William away in prison where they belong,” she said. "No one should be ashamed, embarrassed, or discouraged. I’ve been there. I’ve fought the depression and the anxiety, and you can, too."
Thomas, 58, of Morrisville, is accused of sexually assaulting six children over the course of decades. He ran a remodeling business in Falls Township called Thomas Construction and kept a record of his assaults on pieces of plywood, inscribing them with graphic details about his assaults and rapes of children under 13.
After a resident who had hired Thomas to do renovations found one of the pieces of plywood in the resident's home last fall, authorities discovered graphic drawings and writings, at least 1,000 images of naked children, and 500 to 1,000 pairs of used girls’ underwear in his home at Midway Village Trailer Park.
Thomas had turned his trailer into “a perverse shrine” to his behavior, Bucks County District Attorney Matthew D. Weintraub said last month.
Thomas, who was being held in the Bucks County prison, did not appear to have an attorney.
The majority of children referenced in his records have yet to be identified, according to the affidavit of probable cause. The earliest cases of abuse date to the 1970s.
Thomas frequently babysat the sisters who spoke Wednesday. They told police that he would bathe them, photograph them naked, give them underwear to try on, and show them sex acts on anatomically correct dolls.
Thomas told authorities that he had watched and photographed them naked and touched their genitals on one occasion. The writings found on the shed detail oral sexual assault. In total, the “hundreds” of drawings and writings that chronicled Thomas’ actions detailed oral, vaginal, and anal rape of the six children and others.
The sisters said Thomas had been a deceptively “welcoming face,” and they were too young to understand the assaults.
“Things like this mess a person up for their whole lives -- wondering what was wrong with you, why you seclude yourself from the world, why you can never give the right amount of affection to the people who try to love you, why you can never let anyone in, and why you can’t find some reason to love yourself,” JM said as her sister wiped tears from her eyes.
“But today, I will no longer feel that way. This is not my fault, because I wasn’t even old enough to understand. I was being taken advantage of by a grown adult child molester.”
It is uncommon for sexual-assault victims to speak out, but the sisters wanted to make their stories public, NOVA employees said.
“It was something that was their idea and they felt would help them in their journey to healing,” said Steve Doerner, NOVA victim advocate coordinator.
The women did not want to be identified by their full names. They plan to testify against Thomas in court.
“I hope that anyone else that was affected by this man -- please step up,” JM said. “You will be heard.”
Thomas is set to appear at a preliminary hearing March 28 in Fallsington.
Anyone with information about Thomas or other victims can contact Falls Township Detective Sgt. Christopher Clark at 215-302-3315 or firstname.lastname@example.org, or Bucks County Detective Lt. Robert Gorman at 215-340-8141 or email@example.com.
NOVA, which provides victim advocacy and services, has a 24-hour victim support hotline that can be reached at 1-800-675-6900.