Convicted rapist pleads guilty in Fla. to 5 other assaults, jail escape

Thursday, November 9th 2006, 10:52 pm
By: News On 6

MIAMI (AP) A man convicted of raping an 11-year-old girl pleaded guilty Thursday to five other sexual assaults and to charges of escaping from jail last year.

Miami-Dade County Circuit Judge Barbara Areces sentenced Reynaldo E. Rapalo, 35, to between 15 and 45 years in prison for each of the five attacks, as well as the December escape. The sentences will run concurrently with the life term he was given last month for the attack on the girl.

As part of a plea agreement, prosecutors dropped charges against two people who had been accused of assisting Rapalo after his December 20th jail escape, which triggered an extensive manhunt until his capture December 26th.

Rapalo escaped by prying open a ceiling vent, cutting through bars and rappelling down the side of the building using tied-together bed sheets.

The agreement also will spare the victims from testifying about the assaults, part of a string of attacks in 2002 and 2003 by the so-called ``Shenandoah rapist,'' named for the Miami neighborhood where most of them occurred.

Under the agreement, prosecutors could reinstate each of the five cases against Rapalo if his life sentence or conviction in the first case are ever overturned by a higher court. Rapalo's attorneys have said he will appeal that conviction and sentence.