Indicted Ripley cop accused in civil suit of coercing informant into sex
Lawrence Smith Apr. 29, 2010, 4:23am
RIPLEY - For the second time in three months, a former Ripley police officer is accused of sexual misconduct.
In a lawsuit filed on April 15, a Jackson County woman accused Denver H. Thomas of violating her civil rights. In her six-count complaint, the woman, who is only identified as Jane Doe, alleges Thomas, 43, lured her to his home for the sole purpose of having sex with him, and later ordered her to lie about their encounter.
The woman's allegations come two months after Thomas was indicted on unrelated charges he molested an underage female.
Abusing informant's trust
In the civil suit, the woman alleges she was working for Thomas as a confidential informant. She began working with Thomas on an unspecified date following her conviction on an unspecified misdemeanor.
Around 2:30 p.m. on Thursday, April 17, 2008, Thomas summoned the woman to his home in Goldtown. Believing it was related to a case, the woman alleges she went arriving about 30 minutes later.
Upon arriving at this home, the woman says Thomas was "dressed in work-out shorts and no shirt" and his "service revolver was un-holstered and lying in plain sight on a table in the entranceway to his home." Shortly thereafter, Thomas began rubbing her leg and kissing her.
During this time, the woman alleges Thomas gave her the impression she would go to jail, and her children would be placed in foster care unless she had sex with him. After Thomas took her into his bedroom where he removed her underwear, the woman says she had sex with him.
Before she left, Thomas reportedly grabbed her by the arm and said "'I'd hate to have my son hear about this.'"
Fearing Thomas would make good on this threat, the woman alleges she neither sought medical treatment nor filed a police report.
Nevertheless, she maintains shortly thereafter, Thomas had her come to the Ripley Police Department where he ordered her "to speak into a recording device and state that she had not been sexually assaulted by him."
In the suit, the woman makes claims against Thomas for violation of her constitutional rights, sexual discrimination and assault and battery. Also, her suit makes claims against the city of Ripley, which is named as a co-defendant in the suit, for failing to properly train and adequately supervise Thomas.
The woman alleges Thomas' actions have caused her "[p]hysical pain and suffering...[m]ental and emotional pain and suffering...[e]mbarrassment, humiliation, and loss of self-esteem."
She seeks unspecified damages. She is represented by Charleston attorneys Kathy Brown and Jim Lees.
The case is assigned to Judge David W. Nibert.
Allegations six months apart
Prior to the woman's civil suit, Thomas was indicted on Feb. 23 by a Jackson County grand jury on one count of sexual abuse by a parent, guardian or custodian.
The indictment alleges Thomas sometime in late 2008 - six months after his alleged encounter with the woman who filed civil suit - "attempt[ed] to engage in an act of sexual contact" with a minor female while she was in his "care, custody and control."
No other information is provided in the indictment about Thomas' alleged action except he placed his hand on her vagina.
The day after his indictment, Thomas was fired from the RPD. The Ripley city council took the action at the recommendation of Chief Raymond Fridley.
Prior to the firing, the council on Sept. 17 placed Thomas on paid administrative leave pending the completion of an investigation by the West Virginia State Police into the sexual abuse allegations.
Records show prior to his termination, Thomas was a six-year veteran with RPD, achieved the rank of corporal and earned a salary of $28,151.
Thomas' trial is set for June 1. He is free on $20,000 bond.
Parkersburg attorney George Cosenza is Thomas' court-appointed counsel.
Kanawha County Assistant Prosecutor Fred J. Giggenbach Jr. is a special prosecutor assigned to the case.
Jackson Circuit Court, case numbers 10-C-50 (Thomas civil) and 10-F-3 (Thomas criminal)