A 74-year-old rape suspect who went on the lam 40 years ago has been captured and has pleaded guilty to fleeing prosecution, the U.S. attorney said Wednesday.
The rape case, however, was dismissed earlier this month, U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara said in a news release. He said the victim cannot testify because of a debilitating disease, and much of the evidence no longer exists "because of the passage of almost four decades."
Court papers say the suspect, Russell Benjamin Pearce, is also ailing, diagnosed with three kinds of cancer and diabetes.
Pearce was charged in 1970 with repeatedly raping a 19-year-old girl in Fallsburg, about 80 miles northwest of New York City, prosecutors said. He allegedly picked her up on a motorcycle and drove her to a wooded area.
Pearce did not appear for a 1971 date in Sullivan County Court and was not found until 2010 in Pennsylvania, Bharara said. He praised the state police and FBI for pursuing Pearce for so long. His office said it had no details on how or where Pearce was captured.
A call to Pearce's lawyer, Amy Attias, was not immediately returned.
The statement said Pearce admitted in court Wednesday that he fled unlawfully.
Prosecutors said sentencing guidelines call for 12 to 18 months in prison, but no sentencing date has been set.