Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Child Neglect Plea and Sentencing

Earlier today, Thelma Louise Thomas, age 43, entered a guilty plea to two counts of Child Neglect Creating Substantial Risk of Serious Bodily Injury or Death.  Thomas waived a pre-sentence investigation and requested to be immediately sentenced.  The Honorable Miki Thompson then sentenced Thomas to one to five years with regards to each count to run consecutively.  Thomas will not be eligible for parole until after she has served a minimum of two (2) years.  In addition, upon the completion of her sentence, Thomas will be required to register with the West Virginia State Police as a child abuser and participate in the intensive supervision program for a period of ten years.

During her plea hearing, Thomas acknowledged that she had not protected her teenage daughter from Maximo Ayala, Jr.  Ayala previously entered a plea to several sexual offenses.  During his plea hearing, Ayala acknowledged that while he was residing in the Thomas’ home he had an ongoing sexual relationship with Thomas’ daughter.  The relationship began when the victim was only thirteen and continued until the time of Ayala’s arrest last year.  The victim has since given birth to two children.  During the course of the relationship, Ayala, the victim, who only recently turned sixteen, and her family lived a nomadic lifestyle, moving several times including at least one move from Kentucky to West Virginia.  Thomas failed to intervene in the relationship and failed to take any steps to remove Ayala from the family residence.

“Being a parent comes with certain responsibilities including an obligation to protect your children from all manner of harm.  Most parents suffer from an attack of guilt when their child breaks an arm while climbing a tree or riding a bike.  It is difficult to imagine a parent being willfully blind to their child being repeatedly sexually assaulted in her own home.  Unfortunately, Thomas did just that.  Her lack of action is appalling, and her daughter and grandchildren will suffer irreparable harm as a result.  While this conviction cannot heal all wounds, I am hopeful that the victim will find some measure of peace knowing that justice has been served.”
Rodney Thomas, the father of the victim, was also originally charged.  However, the charges were dismissed following his death earlier this year.