Richmond serial rapist charged

February 17, 2009 3:54:54 PM PST
A suspected serial rapist who allegedly targeted women in Richmond, North Richmond and Oakland has been charged with 14 felonies in connection with the sexual assaults of four victims over the past three years.

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Richmond police Sgt. Bisa French said police believe there were more victims and are continuing to work with other agencies to investigate the case.

Deputy District Attorney Dara Cashman said she filed charges Wednesday against the suspect, 29-year-old Richmond resident Michael Edward Stevens.

Stevens is facing multiple counts of forcible rape, forcible sodomy, forcible oral copulation and kidnapping. He has also been charged with robbery and enhancements for sexually assaulting multiple victims, using a gun during a rape and kidnapping in order to commit a rape, Cashman said.

Stevens allegedly committed one of the rapes with another man and has also been charged with rape in concert. Cashman said the second suspect has not been identified.

If convicted, Stevens could face a life sentence, Cashman said.

French said police got a break in the case by chance a couple of weeks ago when a Richmond police officer pulled Stevens over for an unrelated warrant and had his vehicle towed.

The next day, the officer was reading the newspaper and saw an article about an alleged rape in unincorporated North Richmond. The description of the suspect and his vehicle, a silver BMW X5, matched the description of Stevens, French said.

The officer talked to another officer, who said he was investigating three other rape cases allegedly involving the same suspect, French said.

Richmond police worked with the sheriff's office in the investigation, but later determined that all four rapes had occurred within the city's jurisdiction, French said.

According to the charges, the first rape happened on Feb. 2, 2007. Cashman said Stevens allegedly picked up the victim in Oakland and drove her to his apartment in Richmond, where he allegedly sexually assaulted her.

The other three sexual assaults happened on Dec. 31, 2008, Jan. 29, and Feb. 1. along Parr Boulevard and Richmond Parkway.

Stevens allegedly picked up his victims, sexually assaulted them and pushed them out of his car, police said.

One of the victims was disabled, according to Cashman.

Police said some of the victims were prostitutes. Cashman said at least one victim was not a prostitute, but that Stevens tended to target women who would not be likely to call police.

Although she couldn't discuss the evidence against Stevens because the case is still pending, Cashman said, "We're confident we have the right person."

Stevens is scheduled to appear in Contra Costa County Superior Court in Richmond on Feb. 24 to be assigned an attorney and enter a plea.

His bail has been set at more than $5.1 million.

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