JULESBURG, Colo. (CBS4)– The sheriff of Sedgwick County has been accused of sexually assaulting a developmentally disabled woman. Thomas Hanna is facing sexual assault and misconduct allegations.
Hanna, 43, was arrested at his office on Tuesday and appeared in court Wednesday afternoon in Sterling on charges of sexual assault of an at-risk adult, sexual conduct with a correctional inmate, official misconduct and soliciting a prostitute.
According to the arrest affidavit, Hanna allegedly took a developmentally disabled woman from the jail to his home in his personal truck. He said he was going to drop off the woman at the Logan County Jail on his way to Denver.
Deputy Larry Neugebauer noticed both the sheriff’s truck and his patrol vehicle parked at Hanna’s house shortly after that.
When investigators later questioned the woman at the Logan County Jail, she told them Hanna took her to his house, offered her $60 to strip and told her it had to stay between them. The woman said he used his fingers to assault her and that he took off his pants.
She told the investigator that she was worried because she was afraid she would be in trouble.
The affidavit states that $20 was put on her commissary account at the jail but she told investigators that she did not ask Hanna for the $60.
District Attorney Brittny Lewton said everyone involved in the investigation acted quickly.
“There was information given to me that I had to act on quickly and I did that and once I deemed it necessary I brought in the Colorado Bureau of Investigation and went from there and then made the decision that the 18th needed to take over so everything has happened rather quickly but I’ve done everything with as much transparency as possible,” said Lewton.
District Attorney George Brauchler of the 18th Judicial District and his office have been appointed special prosecutor in the case. Hanna’s case will continue to be tried in Logan County despite the 18th Judicial District taking over the case.
Both the woman and the investigator described her as being developmentally disabled. The victim’s advocate believes the woman is unable to function on her own.
She was in jail on harassment and domestic violence charges.
Hanna told investigators that he took the woman to his home because she said she wanted to share something with him in private and that he made a poor decision. He denied touching her in a sexual way and said he doesn’t know why she would make that up.
He said it’s a small town and he wanted to avoid being seen while she shared sensitive information with him.
“I was just really surprised,” said Hanna’s neighbor Alaine Rattigan. “If I nailed my head to the floor I wouldn’t be any more surprised.”
Rattigan lives across the street from Hanna and said she was surprised to learn of the charges.
“There’s all kinds of people that are respectable and above the law, and just would never do anything so egregious against anybody,” Rattigan said. “Low and behold, they’re on the news the next night.”
According to the affidavit, Hanna said he gave the woman $20 in her jail account because he has a big heart and wanted to make sure she could call her brother.
He was originally taken to the Logan County jail in Sterling, which houses some inmates arrested by Hanna’s department, but later moved to Weld County.
Hanna was elected to sheriff while serving as deputy sheriff in the fall of 2014. He took office in January 2015. Although Hanna is still the elected sheriff, the Sedgwick County coroner will fill in as the acting sheriff in the meantime.
Bond for Hanna was set at $250,000 on Wednesday. If he meets his bond, he has been ordered to wear a GPS device.
The judge also ordered Hanna to stay at least 100 yards from the Sedgwick County Courthouse, he is not allowed to have any contact with the victim or witnesses, he is not allowed to have contact with anyone under the age of 18– including his two foster children.
His next court date is Sept. 16.