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Rape trial begins Tuesday for East Grand Forks man

GRAND FORKS -- The trial of an East Grand Forks man accused of raping a woman and assaulting her with a hammer is set to start today in Crookston.

Ronald Alfred Thomas, 52, has pleaded not guilty to first-degree assault, second-degree assault and three counts of first-degree criminal sexual conduct.

Police said the 51-year-old victim suffered multiple injuries during the assault July 11, 2008, in an East Grand Forks apartment.

Police said the victim, found in the hallway, told officers she'd been physically and sexually assaulted and was taken to Altru Hospital in Grand Forks. A while later, Thomas was apprehended in the apartment where the alleged incident occurred, investigators said.

Authorities said Thomas and the woman met each other earlier that day for the first time.

Thomas remains in custody at the jail in Crookston.