CLEVELAND –- A Cleveland man has been arrested for an October rape behind a popular Gateway District bar. His arrest came one day after a woman reported a separate rape in a nearby downtown parking garage.
Robert L. Gaines Jr., 38, was arrested February 15 and charged with rape, robbery and misuse of credit cards.
According to court documents, investigators said DNA linked Gaines to an attack behind a bar in the 800 block of Huron Road in the early morning hours of October 25.
A 20-year-old woman woke up from being unconscious with bloody knees and a large scratch from her thigh to her stomach, according to court records. Court documents state that the victim’s credit card was stolen and used at a gas station and the Jack Casino.
Gaines, who has a criminal record that includes several drug convictions, was arraigned Tuesday and is being held on a $500,000 bond.
On February 14, a 51-year-old woman reported that she was raped in the parking garage at 630 Prospect Avenue at around 7 p.m. Investigators said she was walking to her car after work when the suspect followed her into an elevator then attacked her on the sixth floor. Investigators said he forced her into her car before crashing it, robbing her and running away.
Police arrested a 17-year-old from Cleveland Tuesday, and he faces 12 charges including rape, kidnapping and robbery. The suspect has a violent criminal record and prosecutors said they hope to try him as an adult.
Despite the attacks, police maintained downtown Cleveland is safe during a press conference Thursday.
“These offenses are outliers. But they do occur, and they’re tragic offenses. But Cleveland is safe,” Deputy Chief Harold Pretel said.
While the random sexual assaults are alarming, Cleveland Rape Crisis Center Senior Director of Educational Services Alex Leslie said most of the time someone is assaulted by someone they know.
“The community deserves to feel a sense of safety and when someone violates someone else that sense of safety is rattled,” Leslie said.
Leslie said research shows about one in three women and one in six men experience sexual violence in their lifetime.
The Cleveland Rape Crisis Center has a 24-hour hotline at 216-619-6192 for help any time of day. It can also provide advocates to help with the legal process and offers free counseling for those dealing with the trauma of sexual violence, regardless of how long ago it occurred.