Trial begins for suspected 'screwdriver rapist'

By Lisa Rantala - bio | email

TOLEDO (WTOL) - He could face hundreds of years behind bars. Now, a suspected serial rapist goes to trial.

He sits in court a 19-year-old man, but prosecutors say Shaheem French started terrorizing women when he was just 15.

"Where did he kiss you?" the prosecutor asks?

"On the chest," said the victim.

One victim testified that French targeted her on her way to school. She was only 14 at the time. Prosecutors say French raped the girl and threatened to kill her.

And then, raped four more times in September of last year.

They say he sexually assaulted a woman in her home. He had a screwdriver and boosted himself up through a window on a kid's slide.

A week later, prosecutors say French threatened another woman in another home with a knife. This victim said she was pregnant, hoping he'd let her go. Prosecutors say she was also raped.

On September 17, another student was nearly assaulted on her way to school, but got away.

A week later, prosecutors say French raped another woman in her home.

Assistant Prosecutor Jennifer Donovan said in court, "He gets up, grabs her neck, puts her face down in the pillow, tells her to lift up after he takes her pants off and his."

The defense says French should be found 'not guilty'. Defense Attorney John Thebes said, "When asked about the details of what happened, he will not come up with any." He goes on to say there are no fingerprints and faulty photo arrays. He argues that detectives never connected the property stolen from these cases to French. "At the end of the day, you'll find that this table has not proven their case beyond a reasonable doubt."

French is facing 16 different counts including rape, aggravated robbery, aggravated burglary and kidnapping. If found guilty, he could face nearly 250 years behind bars.