Former charter school CEO Michael Sharpe convicted after DNA linked him to 4 sexual assaults in 1984

A Connecticut man who was linked to the 1984 sexual assaults of four women through information on a genealogy database was found guilty on Wednesday of all eight kidnapping charges against him. A state jury in Hartford took less than an hour of deliberation to unanimously convict Michael Sharpe after a five-day trial. He faces 25 to 100 years in prison when he is sentenced on January 9.

Sharpe, 71, who was released on a promise to appear in court, was held after the verdicts because a judge set a new $2.5 million bond.

At least two of the victims were in the courtroom and wept after the verdicts were announced, the Hartford Courant reported.

One of the victims, Jane Doe 1, who is now 63, told the newspaper she felt relieved after nearly four decades.

“I felt strongly that we had a guilty verdict and I’m so relieved,” she told Le Courant. “It’s been 38 long years, especially the last two, and then going through so much again and telling a jury about it in court has been very difficult,” she said.

Sharpe’s public defender, Dana Sanetti, said in closing argument Tuesday that the only evidence linking Sharpe to the attacks was his DNA, which was just “one piece of the puzzle,” Hearst Connecticut Media reported.

Sharpe, from Marlborough, was once the chief executive of a group that ran Jumoke Academy, a tuition-free charter school in Hartford.

Prosecutors said he broke into the women’s homes in four different cities and sexually assaulted them at gunpoint in June and July 1984. Investigators found DNA evidence in the homes, but no match could be found at the time and matters cooled.

Police said they were able to identify Sharpe as a suspect in 2020 because his relatives gave DNA samples to the GEDmatch website. DNA samples taken from trash outside Sharpe’s home and then from his cheeks matched DNA found at crime scenes, officials said.

“Looking to forensic genetic genealogy as a possible breakthrough for unsolved cases shows that investigators in the Unsolved Cases Unit never forget the victims of these crimes,” said Assistant District Attorney John F. Fahey, head of the unsolved cases unit, after Sharpe’s arrest. .

Sharpe could not be charged with sexual assault because the statute of limitations expired, but authorities were able to file kidnapping charges, which have no time limit.

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