HOUSTON (AP) — A man charged in seven sexual assault cases in Houston also is the prime suspect in eight others since 2012, investigators said Monday.
Marquis V. Tate, 33, is accused of using either a knife or a gun to force women into his car and then taking them to secluded areas and sexually assaulting them, said Houston police Officer Monica Fortson, the lead investigator in the case.
"If they did not comply, he physically assaulted them. A majority of the time it was a punch to the face and a continual physical assault until they complied," Fortson said.
After the first sexual assault in Houston in 2012, Tate lived out of state, possibly in Philadelphia and Ohio, police said. He returned to Houston and is accused of sexually assaulting a woman in February 2015. He then lived in Fort Worth for several months before returning to Houston and allegedly attacking women during five assaults from October 2015 to January 2016.
Fortson said she's concerned Tate might have committed similar crimes in other cities.
"Looking at what he was doing here in the Houston area, I would strongly encourage any agency that possibly believes that he might be linked with them to reach out to us," she said.
Tate has been charged with eight counts of aggravated sexual assault. In one of the seven cases, two counts were filed.
Tom Radosevich, Tate's attorney, declined to comment on whether his client denies the charges against him.
"We're investigating the facts. We're researching the law. We're getting in touch with his family," Radosevich said.
Investigators said Tate picked women who he found walking alone in the Fifth Ward neighborhood, located northeast of downtown Houston. Fortson said investigators believe Tate might have been targeting prostitutes but that not all of the women who were attacked were involved in prostitution.
Fortson said some of the victims who were involved in prostitution initially declined to report their assaults, thinking they would not be believed by authorities.
"I encourage any woman, any man that has been sexually assaulted, regardless of lifestyle, where you're at, what profession you have to come forward and report," she said.
Several possible suspects were identified at the start of the investigation, and one lead took officers to the Fort Worth area where a man told authorities he had sold a vehicle that matched the description of the one used in some of the sexual assaults.
Tate was identified as the person who bought the vehicle and was later identified as a suspect, police said.
DNA evidence obtained after Tate's arrest earlier this month led to charges in five cases. Photo identifications by victims tied him to the two other cases, Fortson said.
While Tate is the prime suspect in the eight other sexual assaults, there is no DNA evidence in those cases, Fortson said.
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