Officials: Rapist found in Florida after decades as fugitive

Author: The Associated Press
Douglas Bennett (Credit: PCSO booking photo)

A convicted rapist has been arrested in Florida more than 40 years after skipping out on his Connecticut prison sentence and assuming a stolen identity, authorities said.

Douglas Bennett, 76, was arrested Tuesday at his Clearwater home and charged with passport fraud and aggravated identity theft. He faces up to 12 years in federal prison, which would be served before any state sentence. A warrant for his arrest was still active from Connecticut.

According to a criminal complaint, Bennett submitted a passport application in July 2016 using the name, date of birth and Social Security number of a person who was born in 1940 and died in 1945. Emergency contact information in the application led investigators to suspect Bennett’s true identity, which they confirmed with fingerprints after his arrest, the complaint said.

Bennett was convicted in 1975 by a Connecticut jury of robbery, kidnapping, sexual contact, rape and deviate sexual intercourse. He was sentenced to nine to 18 years in prison but remained free on bail while he appealed. After losing his appeal, records showed Bennett never turned himself in. Bennett assumed the fraudulent identity in 1977 and remained a fugitive for more than 40 years, the complaint said.

The rape occurred in February 1974 in Wethersfield, Connecticut, according to a 1976 appeal ruling, which also said Bennett lived in Granby, Massachusetts, and had worked for the victim’s father. The appeal ruling said the victim’s father allegedly had owed Bennett money.

Bennett’s attorney, Nicole Hardin, declined to comment on the case.

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