SHAMOKIN — The East Cameron Township couple charged this week in relation to the sexual assault of a 14-year-old girl had volunteered at God’s Chuckwagon for about two months, Pastor James Bowers, who operates the mobile soup kitchen, said Thursday.
Bowers was shocked to learn about the arrest of Ernest Segura, 62, and Monique N. Thomas, 23, of 3806 Upper Road, and said they will obviously no longer be involved in the organization.
Also, while authorities indicated in an affidavit that Segura “met the victim through Thomas” while working at God’s Chuckwagon, Bowers stressed the victim worked just one day and for just three hours for the organization as part of a community service assignment through Northumberland County Juvenile Probation.
Bowers said on the day probation brought the victim for her community service, Thomas told him she knew the girl from another community service assignment. Segura and Thomas were assigned to help God’s Chuckwagon through Snyder County Adult Probation.
The date of the alleged assault, July 6, was several weeks after the victim’s three hours of community service at God’s Chuckwagon, Bowers said. He said he had no idea the defendants and victim had stayed in contact.
It’s not usual for criminal defendants, both adults and juveniles, to do community service through the organization, but Bowers said he is not permitted to even ask the defendants about their backgrounds. He said he trusts probation officials wouldn’t knowingly assign someone that could do harm to anyone in his organization or the public.
Segura has a criminal background that goes back 20 years, and his most recent arrest, on Dec. 26, 2015, in Monroe Township, Snyder County, included charges of possession of a controlled substance, receiving stolen property, retail theft, conspiracy and corruption of minors.
Thomas was charged with retail theft, receiving stolen property and corruption of minors in connection to the same case, which involved allegations of the two stealing merchandise from Walmart near Selinsgrove. The incident included Thomas taking a coat from a rack and putting it on her son and the leaving the store without paying for it, police said.
Segura pleaded guilty in county court to retail theft and conspiracy to commit retail theft and the other charges were dismissed; the possession charge had been withdrawn at the magistrate level. Thomas pleaded guilty to retail theft and the other offenses against her were dismissed.
For Segura, other charges in Northumberland County have included harassment and simple assault in 1998, DUI in 2003, operating a vehicle without required documentation in 2010 and driving while operating privilege is suspended in 2014. In Schuylkill County he was charged with driving while operating privilege is suspended or revoked in 2016.
Thomas was charged in Northumberland County with retail theft in 2014, and with failure to obey traffic control devices in July of this year. She was charged in Schuylkill County with retail theft and receiving stolen property in 2016.
In the sexual assault case, Segura is charged with felonies of statutory sexual assault, involuntary deviate sexual intercourse, unlawful contact with a minor, aggravated indecent assault and photographing, videotaping or filming sexual acts, and misdemeanors of endangering the welfare of children, corruption of minors and indecent assault. Thomas is charged with unlawful contact with a minor, photographing, videotaping or filming sexual acts, endangering the welfare of a child and corruption of minors.
As to the defendants’ involvement at God’s Chuckwagon, Bowers said of Segura and Thomas, “When they were here, they worked.” They volunteered four days a week, starting about 10 a.m. and working until after the bus finished its daily run in the evenings, he said.
He said he’s disgusted by the turn of events and feels terrible that his organization was affiliated with the defendants.
God’s Chuckwagon is in a constant battle to get sponsors to help it buy food, and for volunteers, and Bowers acknowledged this won’t help.
He said he and his wife and about four other people are currently running the operation.