A man with one conviction for assaulting a woman two years ago is now accused of rape in a downtown parking garage on March 11, authorities said.
Brian L. Sullivan, 23, formerly of Hamilton Street, was charged Thursday with first-degree rape, among other charges.
It was a case, police said, that was brought through good police work, community cooperation and help from the state DNA databank.
“We are most pleased to be able to close this case,” Public Safety Commissioner Wayne Bennett said at a morning news conference. “It was a heinous crime perpetrated on a most innocent person.”
Sullivan appeared in Schenectady City Court just before noon. He answered three times “Yes, your honor,” to questions by City Court Judge Christine Clark. He otherwise was subdued. He was ordered held without bail.
Sullivan is accused in the March 11 attack in the underground parking garage off Franklin Street.
He has been in custody since March 25 on a parole violation. Authorities say they used that time to confirm his identity in the rape case.
Police and court documents offered the following account:
Sullivan allegedly first approached the woman in the lobby of 600 Franklin Street, seeking directions. Instead of following the directions, however, he followed her. He caught up with her in the underground level of the attached parking garage.
He knocked her to the ground, covering her mouth. She screamed and remotely activated her car alarm.
Brandishing a chain, Sullivan threatened to snap her neck. When the attack was over, he took cash from her and fled.
The private parking garage was unusual in that its lower level is completely enclosed. The garage is owned by Robert A. Lupe Realty. An official there said Thursday a high-tech surveillance system has since been installed.
The case marks the second time Sullivan has been accused of accosting a woman downtown, court records show.
On the evening of March 18, 2006, Sullivan approached a woman on Jay Street. The woman told police she opened her car door and noticed a flier on the windshield. She got it, turned around and a man was standing there. But before it could go further, the victim knocked his glasses off.
His glasses gone, he took her briefcase and fled.
Sullivan pleaded guilty to attempted robbery and was sentenced to two years in state prison. He was released in January.
But it was that case, authorities said, that provided the break they needed in the current case.
Authorities submitted a DNA sample from the current attack, and got a hit on Sullivan’s DNA profile. Later tests confirmed the earlier findings. Anyone convicted of a felony, and some misdemeanors, is required to submit a sample.
Also, for the first time in recent memory, police used an in-person lineup, where the victim identified Sullivan as her attacker.
Schenectady County District Attorney Robert Carney praised the woman for her resolve in helping police find her attacker.
“Because of her, we’re here today,” Carney said, “but also because of science. This is another example of why the DNA database is so important.”
The woman’s identification of Sullivan in the in-person lineup is admissible in court, Carney said. A photo lineup identification is not.
DATA BANK’s role
Sullivan’s arrest is the second aided by the DNA database in Schenectady County in a rape case in recent weeks.
Authorities last month charged notorious Albany rapist Darius Ashley with an April 2005 knifepoint rape of a college student on Hulett Street.
Bennett credited work from Detectives Loretta Marco and Brian Carroll in helping solve the case. Both were on hand at Thursday’s news conference.
Bennett also offered help to the owners of the parking garage in making it more secure. The garage was the focus of police surveillance, both plain-clothed and uniform, in the intervening days and weeks.
However, property manager Shelley Lupe said Thursday upgrades have already been made in response to the attack.
Security cameras have been installed in all lobbies and parking lots, covering entrances and parking decks. She estimated the cost at $6,000.
Residents, she said, can now even check the cameras from the Internet, before they leave. Video is also kept for several days.
“That’s fantastic to hear,” Lupe said when told about the arrest. “I’m so happy to hear about that.”
She said she has gotten a positive response on the upgrades.
“Schenectady is not a violent area,” she said. “This really floored everybody.”
Sullivan’s arrest follows speculation that a dismembered body found in Menands this week is that of missing city resident Denise Hart, who lived in the Wade Lupe Apartments off Liberty Street.
Sullivan, however, does not appear to be a suspect in that case. Records show Sullivan remained in prison at the time of Hart’s November disappearance.
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Categories: Schenectady County