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Originally published Thursday, July 25, 2013 at 7:53 PM

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Sex-assault, robbery suspect arrested before for similar crime

The 34-year-old man arrested in connection with the sexual assault and robbery of an 80-year-old woman at knife point on Wednesday had been released from prison about a month ago after a term for committing a similar crime, court documents show.

Seattle Times staff reporter

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The 34-year-old man who was arrested Thursday in connection with the sexual assault and robbery of an elderly woman in the Chinatown International District spent more than four years in prison for a similar crime, according to court documents.

Court records show the man followed a 52-year-old woman into a Seattle office building in July 2008 and sexually assaulted and robbed her at knife point. He pleaded guilty to first-degree robbery and first-degree burglary, and was released from prison after a 4½ -year sentence last month, according to prison officials.

Two days after his June 10 release, a warrant was issued for his arrest after he failed to report to his community corrections officer, said Department of Corrections (DOC) spokesman Chad Lewis.

On Wednesday, according to police, the man followed a woman in her 80s into her gated residential apartment complex in the 200 block of Sixth Avenue South. Once inside, the man punched the victim in the head and body, knocked her to the floor and got on top of her, police said.

He choked her and sexually assaulted her at knife point before robbing her, police said.

The victim is being treated for her injuries at Harborview Medical Center, according to police.

Police said the man is also suspected of forcibly stealing a purse from another woman at the same housing complex last week.

The Times is not naming the man because he hasn’t been charged in connection with Wednesday’s attack.

He has a criminal history that includes convictions for a domestic-violence assault as well as drug, alcohol and traffic violations, according to court documents.

Images of the suspect captured by surveillance at the housing complex were circulated among police and released to the public on Wednesday evening.

He was arrested early Thursday morning after he was spotted at Sixth Avenue South and South Dearborn Street by a West Precinct officer, police said.

The man was booked into King County Jail on the DOC warrant, police said.

Michelle Ackermann, director of communications for the Seattle Housing Authority, which manages the International Terrace housing complex where the Wednesday attack took place, said it was a relief to hear that a suspect had been arrested.

“We’re very glad police apprehended him so quickly,” she said.

She said the complex is one of the housing authority’s quietest and most sought-after residences. The majority of its inhabitants are seniors, and 90 percent of them speak an Asian language.

She said employees will continue to work with interpreters to inform residents about the incident, how it happened and how residents can protect themselves and their neighbors.

In addition, security at the building will be enhanced and extra staff will be assigned, Ackermann said. Residents will also be informed about who to call or talk to should they feel threatened.

“Feeling safe is very important,” Ackermann said.

Christine Clarridge can be reached at 206-464-8983 or cclarridge@seattletimes.com

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