Suspect Charged In Detroit Serial Rapist Case

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Detroit Police Chief Ralph Godbee, center, speaks at a press conference Sunday Jan. 23, 2011 about the shootings at a Detroit Police precinct Sunday afternoon, Jan. 23, 2011.

DETROIT — A 31-year-old man who has spent much of his life in prison was charged Monday with kidnapping and raping five women in Detroit in a series of sexual assaults that began on New Year’s Day.

Raynard Coleman’s defense attorney said his client is innocent until proven guilty, but he fears that prison may have turned him into a “monster.”

Coleman’s criminal record includes attempted murder. When he was paroled in 2009, at age 29, he had spent about half his life in custody.

“You take a boy, you find him guilty and stick him in the belly of the beast, you create a monster,” lawyer James Galen Jr. said outside court after Coleman was arraigned on more than 30 charges.

Coleman was silent as he participated via video from a police lockup. Not guilty pleas were entered, and he was denied bail.

“These charges are substantial,” Galen told 36th District Court Magistrate Steve Lockhart.

Detroit Police Chief Ralph Godbee said scientific evidence was critical in charging Coleman with assaults on the east and northeast sides of the city, about five miles from downtown.

“We have been very confident that this day would arrive,” Godbee said.

Coleman has been charged in five of seven rapes reported since Jan. 1. He also was charged with attempted rape in a related attack. In most cases, the women were walking in darkness to or from a bus stop; police say one got out of her car after it was bumped by Coleman.

Galen said police swabbed Coleman’s mouth last week for DNA. More than a dozen friends and relatives watched the court hearing but later declined to comment.

“It looks like it’s going to be an uphill battle,” Galen said of the case.

Godbee complimented volunteers who hit the streets less than two weeks ago, warning women that a serial rapist was at large. Indeed, some men using bullhorns walked and declared, “”There’s a rapist on the loose and he’s in your neighborhood!”

In 2009, Coleman was paroled after serving 14 years for attempted murder, assault with intent to rob and a gun crime in Wayne County. He began his sentence as a teenager in juvenile facilities but was transferred to a regular prison at age 18, said John Cordell, a spokesman at the Michigan Department of Corrections.

Coleman was paroled long after serving his minimum 10-year sentence but six years before his 20-year maximum would have expired in fall 2015.

“I can’t speak to this specific case, but the parole board is not going to parole someone who it has determined through the parole consideration process to be likely to re-offend or to pose a threat to the community,” Cordell said.

It was not known whether the Wayne County prosecutor’s office opposed Coleman’s parole. Spokeswoman Maria Miller said the file could not be located immediately.

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