Sex Charges Against 5 Men Dropped in Poconos Farms East Assault Case


Five young men have been vindicated of sexual assault charges after two teenage girls admitted to perjury, the District Attorney’s Office said Wednesday.

The charges, which would have gone to trial this week, stem from an incident last February in Pocono Farms East in Coolbaugh Township. Accused were Kasheen Thomas, 21, William Spiess, 19, Jose Lacen, 18, Jaleel Holden and Gene Thomas II (Kasheen’s brother), both 17, all of Tobyhanna.

The girls said they went to meet two of the five defendants and were then driven to Lacen’s home in Pocono Farms East, where they were assaulted. One girl said Lacen held a knife to her throat during the ordeal.

The charges were dismissed last week because the girls “admitted to testifying falsely under oath on a material matter,” according to court records. The District Attorney’s Office declined to comment further Wednesday.

“First, the DA confirmed that several major accusations from the primary complainant were false,” said attorney William Watkins, representing Thomas II. “The rape-related charges were then scheduled to be dismissed against all the boys and, because the second complainant had made limited statements against Mr. Spiess, all his charges were scheduled to be dropped.

“Thereafter, the DA filed a motion, apparently intending to proceed only with charges related to the second girl,” Watkins said. “Finally, after a meeting with her, additional false statements were confirmed and the decision was made that there was no credible evidence against these young men. Now, all charges have been dropped.”

During a six-hour preliminary hearing last March, five defense attorneys cross-examined the girls and revealed the following inconsistencies in their stories:

Each girl said she told Lacen and Spiess during the drive to Lacen’s house that she was going to run away from them when they got to the house. But neither girl said the other mentioned anything about running.

Each girl said Spiess grabbed her by the arm when they got to Lacen’s to keep her from running, but neither girl said Spiess grabbed the other.

One girl who reported being raped said she at one point was separated from her friend and taken to another room in Lacen’s home.

But the other girl who reported being forced to give oral sex said both were kept in the same room. The latter said the only time the two were separated was when she had to go use the bathroom.

The dismissal of charges “is what should have happened in the first place,” said Holden’s attorney, Michael Ventrella.

“His life got turned inside out by two girls who basically committed perjury,” Ventrella said.

Attorney Robert J. Munley, representing Spiess, said, “My client has always maintained his innocence. We were prepared to go to trial. The dismissal of the case is a tremendous relief to my client and his family.”

Watkins issued the following statement:

“We are very pleased that the charges have been withdrawn. Gene Thomas is an intelligent, soft-spoken young man with no history whatsoever of trouble. His parents never wavered in their belief in him and neither did I.

“I commend the District Attorney’s Office for having the courage to see the problems with this case. Similarly, I cannot fault the Pocono Mountain Regional Police for pursuing the matter when such serious accusations are made.

“I regret that any of these boys had to spend so much time in jail. They were only there because the false portions of the accusations could not be established quickly enough.

“The complaining witnesses may have legal problems of their own. That is up to (the juvenile justice system) to determine.”

The district attorney said there’s no plans to file perjury charges in this case, declining to comment further. Meanwhile, all five former defendants have been released from Monroe County Correctional Facility.