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Sex Assault Defendant Commits Suicide

9-12-2011 West Virginia:

WHEELING - Thomas Gray, charged with 36 counts of sexual assault and abuse, committed suicide today following the first day of his trial Wednesday.

Few details were made available at press time today, but Wheeling Police Deputy Chief Martin Kimball said officers responded to Gray's Mozart residence early today to find him dead of a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head.

Wednesday, Gray, 52, appeared before an Ohio County jury on one count of first-degree sexual assault, 16 counts of first-degree sexual abuse and 17 counts of sexual abuse by a custodian. Those charges stem from incidents that allegedly occurred at two separate residences in which Gray lived between 2001 and 2007, involving a female between the ages of 6-12 years old.

In an interview with a child advocate, which was played in court, the now 15-year-old girl said Gray touched her breasts, buttocks and genitals multiple times. She further alleged Gray exposed himself and forced her to touch his genitals.

She recalled the two were alone at Gray's residence when the alleged incidents occurred, and he frequently drove her to school the mornings following the sexual misconduct.

Officials eventually learned of the allegations after turbulent behavior at school and home prompted the girl's family to seek counseling from a therapist, to whom she revealed the allegations.

The May term of the Ohio County grand jury indicted Gray on two counts of third-degree sexual abuse, in addition to the charges listed above. Those counts stem from incidents that allegedly occurred between 1986 and 1988.

One of the alleged victims from the most senior incident was expected to testify today.

Gray's attorney, Don Tennant, said he is extremely saddened for his client's family. He thought, he pointed out, the testimony was presented as favorably as possible for Gray, and wished the jury was given the opportunity to deliberate. Tennant believes the likelihood Gray would have spent the rest of his life in prison if he was found guilty caused a great deal of stress, prompting his fatal decision.

If convicted, Gray would have faced more than 500 years in prison. ..Source.. by TYLER REYNARD Staff Writer

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