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Summers Co. Prosecuting Attorney and Family Advocate Discuss Peal Indictment

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SUMMERS COUNTY, W.Va (WOAY) – Former Mt. Hope Police Chief and former Beckley Fire Lieutenant Thomas Ray Peal was indicted on sexual abuse charges in Summers County. He is facing four counts of sexual abuse.

“Thomas Peal was indicted July 16th on four felony counts: two counts of sexual assault in the second degree, one count of incest, one count of sexual abuse by a parent, guardian, custodian,” Summers County Prosecuting Attorney Kristin R. Cook said.

According to court documents, the alleged incident occurred between November 17, 2017, and November 26th, 2017, but county officials did not learn of the alleged incident until March of this year. 

“It was referred to us early this year for investigation. Since it was referred to us, we’ve gone out. Deputy T.J. Cochran with the Summers County Sheriff’s Department has investigated,” Cook said.

The Summers County Child Advocacy Center has also been working with the prosecuting attorney and law enforcement on this case. 

“T.J. Cochran contacted us about this case that he was investigating. We worked alongside him through the investigation,” Felisha Hartwell, the family advocate for the center, said. 

And the three groups typically work together on cases like this. 

“We get a call of abuse and as a multidisciplinary team, we all respond to that to make sure that the child and the family are taken care of to the best of our ability,” Hartwell said.  

With the Thomas Ray Peal case, despite the fact that he was a law enforcement official, Cook says he will be prosecuted to the full extent of the law.

“What I can say is this: Child abusers don’t have a certain look about them. They don’t have a certain status or character about them. Any person who abuses or takes advantage of a child is going to be taken seriously and going to be held accountable,” Cook said. 

Peal will be arraigned in court on June 22nd in Summers County at 9 a.m. He will enter a plea, a bond will be set and future court proceedings will be scheduled.

 



Anna Saunders

Anna Saunders is a weekend reporter for WOAY. With a diploma from Princeton Senior High School and a mother from Fayette County, she is no stranger to the area. She received a degree in Media Arts and Design from James Madison University in Harrisonburg, Virginia and wanted to return home to start her career as a reporter.


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