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WEST CHESTER — A judge overseeing the case of a Caln Township man accused of sending lewd videos of a former girlfriend to her father and who was convicted of sexually assaulting a young girl in Delaware while on probation for robbery hiked the man’s bail after an at-times contentious hearing Tuesday.

Magisterial district Judge Marian Vito said that she found defendant Elijah A. Thomas to be not only a risk of not appearing for future court hearings if re-released on the relatively low bail that was set in his case in 2020 — 10 percent of $5,000 — but also that he appeared to be a danger to the community, based on his rape conviction last fall.

“You are on bail on a sexual offense," Vito said to Thomas, in explanation of why she was increasing his bail to $150,000 cash after he told her he would stay out of trouble if released. “You then raped a 12-year-old. I’m not sure what else you could have done that is worse. Other than that you didn’t murder her.”

Thomas, who appeared by video link from the Chester County Prison, defended himself against charges that he was being treated like “a monster.” “I didn’t rape a 12-year-old,” he declared, after having acknowledged that he was sentenced for the sexual assault by a Delaware judge. “She was 13- or 14-years-old, but she told me she was 18.”

Thomas, 22, has a criminal history in the county dating back to 2017. He told Vito that he had no concerns about the amount of bail she set in his case involving a West Chester woman. “I’ll be out tomorrow,” he vowed. “It’s cool.”

The case that Vito is overseeing involves an incident that allegedly occurred in the borough in January 2020, when a woman who Thomas had been seeing told Officer Aaron Diefenderfer that Thomas had been harassing her. She said she told him to stop trying to contact her after he called her cellphone numerous times that month, and had blocked him on social media.

The woman, whose name is being withheld by MediaNews Group because of the nature of the charges, said that afterward, she received a text message from Thomas including a video of the two of them engaged in sex that she was unaware had been taken. Later, her father told her that he had received the same video, allegedly from Thomas.

When confronted by police, Thomas allegedly acknowledged sending the explicit video to the woman’s father but had since deleted it. He was charged with stalking, harassment, terroristic threats, unlawful dissemination of a sexual image, and invasion of privacy.  

According to Vito and court records, Thomas appeared for a preliminary hearing on the charges on June 16. At the time, Assistant District Attorney Daniel Yarnall approached Thomas’ attorney and informed him that there was a warrant from Upper Merion police for his arrest on similar charges in Montgomery County. But when Thomas learned of the matter, Vito said in court, he abruptly walked away from the Historic Chester County Courthouse, where her court is located. He ended up in Arizona.

However, Thomas said the incident could not have taken place as the judge described. “I was never there," he said. “I was at work.” Yarnall, on the other hand, confirmed the scenario as laid out by Vito, saying he watched as Thomas left the scene that day.

Thomas is still facing charges on the Montgomery County case.

Vito’s decision to increase bail to $150,000 was at odds with both the recommendation of Yarnall, who suggested it be set at $50,000 cash and the representative of the county Bail Agency, who recommended it be 10 percent of $25,000. The bail representative did not explain his reason for the recommendation, however.

According to Thomas and court records, he pleaded guilty to the charge of fourth-degree rape of a person under 13 in October in Delaware and was sentenced to 15 years in prison. He said the judge overseeing his case suspended the sentence after he served eight months, and placed him on probation. Details of the case were unavailable.

Thomas was taken into custody by state constables on Saturday and returned to Chester County Prison.

To contact staff writer Michael P. Rellahan call 610-696-1544.

To contact Staff Writer Michael P. Rellahan call 610-696-1544.

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