The D.C. Court of Appeals overturned the 2010 conviction of an Arlington man accused of breaking into homes and sexually assaulting male Georgetown University students as they slept.
The court on Thursday ruled that Todd Matthew Thomas can get a new trial because prosecutors were allowed to tell jurors that he was previously convicted of sexually assaulting another man in Virginia.
D.C. Superior Court Judge Gregory E. Jackson had sentenced Thomas to 26 years in prison for burglary and assaults on five male Georgetown students between 2007 and 2008.
During the 2010 trial, the jurors learned that Thomas had pleaded guilty to aggravated sexual battery in Arlington. The judge allowed that evidence to be heard for the purpose of proving "motive, common scheme or plan," court document said.
The victim in the Arlington case said he had been drinking on New Year's Eve downstairs from Thomas' apartment and the next thing he remembered was waking up in Thomas' apartment with his pants down and Thomas fondling him.
The students testified that they woke up in the middle of the night to find Thomas in their room. The Georgetown assaults occurred between July 2007 and August 2008 in the 1300 block of 35th Street NW and the 1200 block of 33rd Street NW.
One man testified that he returned home after a night of drinking, fell asleep and awoke and found Thomas sitting on the edge of his bed, "touching [him] sexually."
A year later, Thomas returned to the same house when some roommates had hosted a party, prosecutors said. At about 4 a.m., a different student who was sleeping in the same room where the first attack occurred found Thomas sitting on the side of his bed.
The student reported that incident to police.
Two others testified that they woke up to Thomas massaging their ankles and shoulders after a night of drinking.
The attacks on the male students came about the same time that another suspect dubbed the Georgetown Cuddler had assaulted seven female students.
At trial, Thomas wanted to claim that the Georgetown Cuddler had committed the crimes that he was accused of, and that he couldn't be the Georgetown Cuddler because he had been wearing a electronically monitored ankle bracelet during the attacks on the females. The judge refused to allow jurors to hear about it.