Suspected East Coast Rapist in Court Thursday

40-year-old accused of 17 assaults against women

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Three teenage girls assaulted on Halloween two years ago testified at a hearing to determine if the charges against their alleged attacker, the suspected East Coast Rapist, should move forward. News4's Julie Carey reports.

    The man accused by prosecutors as the East Coast Rapist confessed to police that he raped two teenage trick-or-treaters in Virginia in 2009, according to court testimony.

    Authorities believe 40-year-old Aaron Thomas is responsible for rapes and other attacks on 17 women from Virginia to Connecticut over the span of a decade.

    Thomas was in court Thursday in Manassas for a preliminary hearing. The three girls he allegedly abducted - two of whom were raped - testified in graphic detail about what occurred.  The three women told the court they believed the suspect was armed at the time of the attack, and followed his orders because they were afraid he would kill them.

    A police sergeant also testified that Thomas confessed to the Halloween rapes after he his arrest, but only after complaining that a police sketch failed to depict him properly.

    Thomas was originally supposed to appear in court in January, but his attorney requested a mental evaluation.  Ronald Fahy, his court-appointed representation, said Thomas has engaged in self-destructive behavior and refused to communicate with him.

    However, a court-ordered evaluation of Thomas' mental health determined that he was faking insanity.  The judge found Thomas competent to stand trial.

    If convicted, Thomas faces life in prison.