CLEVELAND (WJW) — A 61-year-old man on Monday pleaded guilty to sexually assaulting two women more than 20 years ago, following Cuyahoga County prosecutors’ expanded DNA research on cold cases.

An unknown suspect later determined to be Leo Bradley Scott III, of Cleveland, was initially indicted in 2014 on several counts of rape and kidnapping. Scott pleaded guilty Monday to felony counts of rape and sexual battery, the latter of which was downgraded from a rape charge, court records show.

“This sexual predator deserves to be held accountable for his actions,” county Prosecutor Michael O’Malley is quoted in a news release. “This arrest was led by the G.O.L.D. [Genetic Operations Linking DNA] Unit, and I am proud of their work which uses genealogical research to solve these violent crimes against the most vulnerable victims.”

Scott assaulted a 22-year-old woman on Oct. 14, 1994 while she was walking east along Euclid Avenue in Cleveland, according to prosecutors. He dragged her near East 118th Street, where he “strangled her, threatened to kill her, and then sexually assaulted her,” reads the release.

In a second, unrelated incident, Scott assaulted a 23-year-old woman on April 18, 1998 while she was walking home from a club in East Cleveland, where she had been with friends and family. Scott pulled her into his car and took her to a Shaw Avenue parking lot, where he sexually assaulted her.

In both cases, the women called police afterward and were taken to hospitals, where sexual assault kits were performed. Scott’s DNA was collected for investigation at the time, but his DNA profile had not yet been entered into the federal database, according to prosecutors — so no matches were found.

Scott had been previously convicted of rape in 1983 in Cuyahoga County, but that was before the database was established, according to prosecutors.

This chart released in 2021 shows Cuyahoga County’s top 20 most wanted DNA profiles, some of whom have been identified. (Cuyahoga County Prosecutor’s Office)

Many leads opened up by rape kit DNA testing between 1993 and 2011 were left un-investigated for years, prompting the prosecutor’s office to establish its Sexual Assault Kit Task Force in 2013. The office’s G.O.L.D. Unit was then founded with new grant funding in 2020. It worked with a genetics lab on a project that researched the DNA profiles of the top 20 “most wanted” suspects connected to cold case sexual assaults — those considered to be serial offenders or who sexually assaulted strangers, among other circumstances.

Prosecutors used Scott’s then-unknown DNA profile to indict him as “John Doe” in 2014, to ensure the state’s 20-year statute of limitations on sexual assault cases would not expire. The profile was also added to the top 20 most wanted list.

Investigators later “surreptitiously obtained” Scott’s DNA, according to the release. State testing linked that DNA to his profile on the most wanted list. U.S. Marshals arrested Scott without incident in July 2021.

Plea negotiations in Scott’s case began in 2021, and he continued to reject the state’s terms as recently as September 2022, instead opting to prepare for trial that had been set for Monday, Jan. 30, court records show. He pleaded guilty that day.

Scott is not currently incarcerated in the Cuyahoga County Jail, according to jail records. Court records show he posted 10% of a $40,000 cash or surety bond after his arrest in 2021, and was released.

Scott is due for sentencing on March 1 before Judge Cassandra Collier-Williams.