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Convicted rapist goes on trial for Kansas City rapes

KANSAS CITY (AP) — A convicted rapist who has spent most of his adult life behind bars goes on trial Monday for the rapes of three Kansas City women nearly three decades ago.

Bernard Jackson, 53, is facing six rape charges, four counts of first-degree burglary and five counts of sodomy in connection with a July 1983 robbery and the rapes of three women from October 1983 to February 1984. He is accused of robbing a fourth woman during the same time period.

Jackson was charged in May 2010 after prosecutors said DNA evidence linked him to those assaults in the Waldo and nearby Armour Hills neighborhoods. Both are about three miles south of Country Club Plaza, an upscale shopping and entertainment district best known for its annual Christmas lighting display.

Jackson’s arrest last year came as tensions were running high in the Waldo neighborhood because of a series of five rapes from late September 2009 to late February 2010 that police believed were the work of one person.

When they announced the charges in the old cases, prosecutors said they considered Jackson a person of interest in the newer ones, as well.

Nine months after that announcement, Jackson was charged in February with 22 counts related to two of the five newer rapes after DNA evidence and witness statements linked him to the attacks. A trial date in those cases hasn’t been set.

Kansas City police spokeswoman Stacey Graves said there have been no similar attacks in the Waldo area since Jackson’s arrest.

Jackson’s public defender, Carie Allen, didn’t immediately respond to several telephone messages left with her office last week.

In all of the cases from the 1980s, the victims were 29 to 31 years old, lived alone and had their hands bound behind their backs while they were being assaulted. The victims, all of whom would now be in their late 50s, said their assailant blindfolded them and initially told them he was going to rob them.

Jackson is charged with raping three of the victims and robbing the other, though the robbery victim told police she also was raped, according to a probable cause statement.

Jackson first went to prison in 1977 at age 19 after pleading guilty to raping a Kansas City woman in her home. He served less than six years of a 15-year sentence and was paroled in April 1983.

Authorities say Jackson split his time over the next 21 months between Sacramento, Calif., and Kansas City. A month after his release from the Missouri prison, detectives in the California city were called to investigate the first of 17 sexual attacks over an 18-month period that occurred within a 2-mile area and that they believed at the time were linked.

In 1984, prosecutors in Sacramento filed five felony charges against Jackson after fingerprints linked him to a burglary and sexual assault that October, police said. Jackson was picked up on the warrant while driving through Colorado two months later.

Instead of being returned to California, Jackson was extradited to Missouri to face the rape charges that led to his spending more than 20 years in prison there before his parole in 2008.

He was living at a prison work-release center in Kansas City at the time of the later rapes and was arrested May 5, 2010, after police tracked him to a friend’s home.

California prosecutors last year ruled Jackson out as a suspect in seven sexual assaults and burglaries there in the mid-1980s, and noted that time had run out to charge him with those cases, anyway.

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