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Suspected serial rapist arrested

January 22, 2009 |  3:58 pm

When victims would hail the suspect's cab, he would drive them to an area, park and assault them, police said. He would then leave the victim at the scene and drive away, police said. A 37-year-old man was arrested Wednesday night in downtown Los Angeles after a woman told police she had seen a man who matched a composite image of a serial rapist.

Eric Clay of Hollywood was inside a taxi near 7th Street and Central Avenue at 10:30 p.m. Wednesday when a woman flagged down patrol officers and told them that the man resembled the LAPD's composite sketch.

Clay, who is being held in lieu of $300,000 bail, is suspected of committing the sexual assaults between Aug. 22 and Dec. 22 in the area of Central Avenue, Main Street and East 6th and 8th Streets in Los Angeles. 

When victims would hail the suspect's cab, he would drive them to an area, park and assault them, police said. He would then leave the victim at the scene and drive away, police said.

"The suspect drove and committed his crimes in a taxi with a legally marked seal and with a phone number and taxi light displayed," the LAPD said in a statement.  "The taxi was leased from an operational taxi company," detectives said.

Police said Clay might be tied to at leave five reported sexual assaults. The first incident took place Aug. 22 about 9 p.m., when the victim was picked up from 7th Street and San Pedro Avenue and taken to the area of 11th Street and Burlington Avenue, where she was raped, police said.   

The most recent assault occurred Dec. 22 about 4:30 a.m., when the victim was picked up from 7th Street and Towne Avenue. She was then driven to Palmetto Street and Santa Fe Avenue and assaulted, police said.

-- Andrew Blankstein and Richard Winton

Photo: When victims would hail the suspect's cab, he would drive them to an area, park and assault them, police said. He would then leave the victim at the scene and drive away, police said. Credit: Noah Berger / Bloomberg News

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