A federal grant to fund the testing of backlogged sexual assault kits collected in Mobile has helped police identify a suspect in another decades-old rape case.
According to the Mobile Police Department, 46-year-old Timothy Robinson was arrested last week and charged with first-degree rape. Investigators say his DNA came up as a match to samples collected as part of a sexual assault kit after a 3-year-old girl was raped in 1989.
The initial investigation appears to have been hampered by a lack of cooperation from members of the victim’s family. Police say the assault occurred while the girl was being cared for by a family friend, but the family told police they didn’t know the offender at the time of the incident.
Further investigation revealed that the family actually knew the suspect and did not disclose the assault to the victim. Now living out of state, the victim was contacted by local investigators and informed of the discovery earlier this year. She decided to move forward and pursue charges.
A Mobile County grand jury formally indicted Robinson in October.
Mobile Assistant District Attorney Tandace Hogan said the victim “thought it was a bad dream” when investigators reached out to her about the 1989 assault. Because she was so young when the rape occurred, though, Hogan said the victim doesn’t have much memory of the incident.
“In 1989, if there wasn’t DNA, it would have been impossible for us to prosecute if the victim wasn’t willing to testify, but because we have DNA, that’s clear evidence that a rape occurred,” Hogan said. “Now the victim, who is 32, is old enough to make her own decisions.”
According to the MPD, Robinson is the third cold-case rape suspect in Mobile identified using grant funding from the Department of Justice that’s used to test old sexual assault kits that were either never DNA tested or tested during a time when the science was less reliable.
Robinson was arrested on Friday, Dec. 7, while attempting to register as a sex offender at the Mobile County Sheriff’s Office due to a prior conviction for sexual abuse of an 8-year-old girl in 2011. He was released early from a 10-year prison sentence in late October.
Robinson is currently being held on $100,000 bond at the Mobile County Metro Jail.
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