A Special Birthday
Wednesday, December 8, 2021. Robert Thomas’s 24th birthday was almost certainly different from all of his others. This birthday, he spent outside of the Kenosha County jail, smelling the cold fall air after a year and a half behind bars.
Allegation and Charge
Thomas was charged by Kenosha Prosecutor James Kraus (D) of an early-morning rape more than seven years ago, on October 2, 2014. According to court records, a woman, who was severely intoxicated, admitted to using hallucinogenics on the night of her alleged rape. She said that she left a Kenosha bar and was walking to another bar when she was approached by a black male. She said the next thing she remembered, she woke up with her pants down. She then pulled them up and hitched a ride to the Kenosha Police Department. The woman did not have much of a description of her alleged attacker. She was taken to the hospital for a SANE (Sexual Assault Nurse Exam). The swab contained DNA and it was sent to the Wisconsin crime lab. There were no matches. The case was cold. Just over 5 years later, a match was sent to KPD. It was a match to the defendant. He was convicted for disorderly conduct on 10/31/2019 and had to give his DNA to police. Police gave the woman a photo lineup with the defendant’s photo among others. She didn’t pick anyone out. Prosecutor James Kraus decided to charge Thomas anyway. That’s exactly what he did on March 20, 2020. Kraus charged Thomas with Second Degree Sexual Assault which carried a possible prison sentence of 40 years. Kraus had his wife Emily Trigg, notarize the sworn complaint, which is improper.
T. Clair Binger’s Trial
We spoke to and heard from jurors about the trial. This gave us a lot of insight into the trial and the deliberations. The alleged victim and the defendant both took the stand. One female juror told us that defense attorney Brett Copeland was polite, non-judgemental, and fair, but seemed like a newer attorney. He has been practicing law for four years.. She told us that T. Clair Binger (D) was smart and well-researched. She did share some criticism with the KCE. She said the T. Clair could have done a much better job of focusing on the alleged victim and how the allegations affected her life in the last seven years. She said he relied too much on the DNA evidence and ignored other avenues to pursue. The defendant admitted to having sex with the woman, but said it was consensual. According to one of the jurors we spoke to, there just wasn’t enough evidence to support rape. “There were just too many holes in her story to convince us it wasn’t consensual”
Theft and Third Degree Sexual Assault
T. Clair made an unusual request. He asked Judge Rossell to allow an 11th hour charge of theft, saying there was evidence that Thomas stole the woman’s purse. The Judge denied his request. T. Clair also asked for a lesser-included charge of third degree sexual assault, which the judge allowed. As a former prosecutor, Rossell is seen as a judge by defense attorneys that typically sides with the prosecution.
About half of the jury recognized T. Clair Binger as the prosecutor that unsuccessfully prosecuted Kyle Rittenhouse. “Oh my God, he’s here again” one jurors said of Binger. The jury spoke briefly about the Rittenhouse case and deliberated for about 4 hours. They asked for a few exhibits and came to a unanimous verdict – NOT GUILTY.
We requested comment from T. Clair and have not heard back.