01/24/2011

Man charged in 5 Detroit rapes

Police say seven women have been raped on Detroit's east and northeast sides since Jan. 1

By David Runk
The Associated Press

DETROIT — Detroit police say charges have been filed against a man accused of raping five women since New Year's Day.

The defendant is 31-year-old Raynard Coleman, an ex-convict who has been in custody since last week.

Police Chief Ralph Godbee said Monday that DNA played a critical role in the investigation. Defense lawyer James Galen Jr. says Coleman has told police that he wasn't involved in the assaults.

Police say seven women have been raped on Detroit's east and northeast sides since Jan. 1.

A lawyer for the 31-year-old man arrested in a string of rapes that terrorized Detroit said Sunday that investigators have told him they have DNA evidence linking his client to the attacks. He said he also was told his client was picked out of a lineup, but he wasn't certain who identified him.

Galen says his client told investigators he wasn't involved in the assaults. He said he had met twice with the man since his arrest last week and that they haven't discussed specifics of the case. He also met Saturday with 10 of the man's family members and a pastor, and they prayed together.

"The family feels empathy, sympathy and concern for the victims and are confused and baffled about the allegations that have been made against their loved one," he said.

A news conference with police and prosecutors was scheduled for Monday, but it was unclear whether that would happen as planned after a shooting Sunday that wounded four officers at a police precinct.

Police said the rapist targeted women standing alone at bus stops or walking by themselves between early evening and early morning hours, police said. One woman was assaulted when she got out of her car after it was bumped from behind by a vehicle driven by her attacker.

In attacks that began Jan. 1, all within five miles of downtown Detroit, victims were forced at gunpoint to secluded areas where they were robbed and raped. An eighth woman was able to get away.

Composite drawings of the man were distributed by community activists to people living in and around the areas where the women were raped. Police had been using DNA evidence to locate a suspect.

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