Former KSU basketball player pleads not guilty to felony charges

Sasha Parker

Former Kent State basketball player Eric W. Thomas, Jr. pleaded not guilty Tuesday to four felony charges at the Portage County Common Pleas Court.

Thomas is charged with one count of aggravated burglary, two counts of rape – both first-degree felonies – and one count of felonious assault, a second-degree felony, according to court documents.

According to a police report, Thomas, 29, was arrested around 2 a.m. Friday, Jan. 18, after allegedly kicking in the door of his ex-wife’s home, raping her and assaulting a man inside.

Thomas’ case was originally heard at the Ravenna Municipal Court. Because of the nature of the crimes, however, the charges were dismissed for review. He was indicted by the grand jury on Jan. 24 on four counts of felonious charges.

Since the indictment, a few changes have taken place with Thomas’ case. The court appointed special prosecutor David Toepfer to handle the case.

“One of the complaining victims, Eric’s ex-wife, works for the prosecutor’s office,” defense attorney Craig M. Stephens said. “It’s typical to appoint a special prosecutor in cases where one of the involved parties has ties to the prosecutor’s office.”

Acting Judge Joseph Kainrad also amended Thomas’ original $500,000 cash or surety bond to 10 percent of $500,000.

“Given the magnitude of the charges, I feel 10 percent of $500,000 is appropriate in this situation,” Stephens said. Although Thomas has not yet posted bond, Stephens said he anticipates it to be posted sometime next week.

Thomas has been held at the Portage County Jail for 13 days.

Once bond is posted, Thomas is to have no contact with the two alleged victims, as well as submitting to electronically monitored house arrest system, said Stephens. Thomas will be allowed to leave his apartment to go to work and to consult with his attorneys. Any violation of these conditions could cause the court to revoke Thomas’ bond.

“There is nothing in Eric’s history that would suggest he would violate the terms of his bond,” Stephens said.

These sentiments have been echoed in the Ravenna community where Thomas was formerly a basketball coach for the junior varsity boys’ basketball team.

“I’ve received a lot of responses from people,” said Ravenna Superintendent Tim Calfee. “People are sorry that this happened and the kids on the team really liked Eric. It’s an unfortunate situation.”

A pre-trial has been scheduled for Feb. 27, and a jury trial is scheduled for April 15, both at 9 a.m., at the Portage County Common Pleas Court.

Contact public affairs reporter Sasha Parker at [email protected].