Kenneth Dehart – Repeat Sex Offender – Sexual Predator Rapist

TAMPA — A convicted sexual offender has pleaded guilty to a 1997 sexual battery that took nearly a decade to solve.

Kenneth Dehart, 37, was sentenced Monday to 25 years in prison.

His victim was there to see Dehart for the first time since the attack. She didn’t make a public statement in court but was “very happy” about the outcome of the case, prosecutor Rita Peters said.

The victim was 46 when Dehart talked his way into her Tampa business, then restrained and raped her on Sept. 4, 1997. He told her that he’d committed sexual battery 200 times before.

The woman went straight to Tampa police after the attack. But nine years passed before a national DNA database linked the evidence to Dehart.

He appeared to have last been in Florida on Sept. 25, 1997, when he was extradited from Pinellas County to Arkansas on a fugitive warrant. In 2001, he was convicted of sexual assault in Illinois and classified as a sexual predator.

He spent about five years in prison. Soon after his February 2006 release, Tampa police got word that the FBI’s Combined DNA Index System found him to be a match for the local unsolved rape.

The victim quickly picked him out of a photo lineup. Authorities arrested him in Minnesota.

Tampa police suspected then that Dehart might be a serial rapist. But so far, detectives have not linked him to any other rapes, police spokeswoman Janelle McGregor said Thursday.

Dehart pleaded guilty to two counts of sexual battery with threats of force.

The Hillsborough State Attorney’s Office dropped burglary and robbery charges against him because the statute of limitations had run out, Peters said. He now is classified in Florida, too, as a sexual predator.

“25% of all sex offenders re-offend within 15 years”
………Sarah Tofte

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