Montgomery County police have arrested a Temple Hills man in connection with two sexual assaults and five attempted assaults of women in parking garages in Bethesda over the past 15 months.
Police said the suspect allegedly used the ruse of helping the victims fix flat tires, then blindfolded and bound them before attacking them at gunpoint.
Yesterday, District Court Judge Thomas Lohm ordered Michael A. Scott, 31, of the 4000 block of 23rd Parkway, held without bond on one count each of first-degree sexual offense and armed robbery stemming from a July 1, 1989, attack on a 23-year-old Silver Spring woman.
County detectives said Scott also is a prime suspect in a Jan. 14 rape and armed robbery of an 18-year-old Lanham woman. In addition, police said Scott is linked to five attempted assaults where the victims declined offers of assistance.
Scott's attorney, Keith Watters, said yesterday his client will plead not guilty to all charges. Watters said Scott, a husband and father of two children, has no prior arrest record.
In the July 1989 incident, police said the victim was attacked in the Air Rights Building parking garage at 4550 Montgomery Ave. In the second assault, the woman was raped in the Artery Building parking garage at 7200 Wisconsin Ave., authorities said. The five attempted assaults -- the most recent in August -- also occurred in the same two garages, police said.
Scott was arrested Monday evening after the victim in the 1989 attack identified him from a photo array of suspects, said police Lt. Harry Harner, chief of the homicide and sex unit. Surveillance of parking garages by the Bethesda Special Assignment Team pinpointed Scott as a suspect after he was observed "hanging around" the facilities, Harner said.
Detective Joseph Mudano said the assaults followed a similar pattern. Police said each victim returned to her car in the parking garage and discovered one of the tires was flat. The suspect then allegedly approached the woman carrying battery jumper cables, Mudano said.
Scott allegedly offered to change the victim's tire in exchange for having the woman help him jump start his car, which was parked on a lower level of the garage, according to Mudano. After getting into the woman's car, the attacker pulled out a handgun and sexually assaulted the woman, Mudano alleged.
A police source said authorities think the tires on the victims' cars were deliberately flattened. Police said both sexual assaults occurred on weekend nights between 6 and 6:30 p.m. as the victims were leaving work. In both assaults, the suspect robbed the victims of cash and other belongings, including a radio and a plastic Maryland Terps cup, police said.
Four of the attempted assaults occurred last December and early January, Mudano said.
A police spokesman said authorities confiscated clothing and a handgun allegedly used during the assaults while executing a search warrant at Scott's home.