Crime & Courts

KC sex offender charged in assaults

KANSAS CITY, Mo. —A convicted Missouri sex offender considered a person of interest in a recent string of Kansas City rapes was charged Thursday with 15 counts related to assaults in the same neighborhood in the early 1980s.

Investigators also are looking into possible connections between Bernard Jackson, 52, of Kansas City, and unsolved assaults from 1983 and 1984 in Sacramento, where he was charged with five felony counts in October 1984 but never was arrested.

Jackson was charged Thursday in Missouri with six counts of rape, four counts of first-degree burglary and five counts of sodomy in connection with a July 1983 robbery and the rapes of three women from October 1983 to February 1984.

Those attacks occurred in the Waldo and nearby Armour Hills neighborhoods of Kansas City, where five women also have been raped between September 2009 and February of this year.

DNA evidence connected Jackson to the 1980s cases, Kansas City Police Chief James Corwin said Thursday, but the investigation into the most recent attacks is ongoing.

"We're working the case for basically filing and presenting to the prosecutor," Corwin said.

Jackson was paroled in 2008 after spending more than 20 years in prison for a 1984 Missouri rape. He was arrested Wednesday after police tracked him to a friend's home in Kansas City, Corwin said. Jackson did not yet have an attorney Thursday.

Prosecutors in California's Sacramento County filed five felony counts in a single case against Jackson in October 1984, but records indicate he never was arrested in that case.

"I can confirm that we did file charges in '84," said Shelly Orio, spokeswoman for the Sacramento County District Attorney's Office. "We had to pull the file and we're reviewing it."

She said the paper file, which had to be retrieved from a warehouse, showed Jackson faced five charges: burglary; sexual battery; penetration with a foreign object; assault with great bodily injury and with a deadly weapon; and assault with intent to commit rape, sodomy, or oral copulation. The file did not make clear the date of the alleged assault or the outcome of any prosecution.

Orio also could not say whether the complaint involved more than one victim, or whether Jackson was suspected in additional rapes at the time. She said it is too soon to know whether Sacramento prosecutors would reopen their investigation or seek new charges now that Jackson is in custody.

"We're looking into it," she said.

Jackson County prosecutor James Kanatzar said Jackson could face up to 15 life sentences if convicted on all charges.