After evading capture for most of his life, a convicted rapist is going to prison after pleading guilty in federal court to aggravated identity theft on Monday.
Douglas Edward Bennett, 77, admitted to assuming the name of a dead child, the Department of Justice announced. According to prosecutors, he skipped out on serving his sentence for a 1975 rape conviction, got a social security number in the name of young Gordon Ewen, and lived his life for more than 40 years.
Bennett applied for a passport renewal under his assumed identity on July 12, 2016, said an affidavit from the U.S. Department of State. The National Passport Center Fraud Program Managers, however, audited his social security number for fraud and discovered a death record for Massachusetts boy Ewen, who was born in 1940 and died in 1945.
Investigators were able to track down Bennett after he used his actual sister—identified in an affidavit as “L.A.”—as an emergency contact.
“The [fraud program] obtained a copy of BENNETT’s New York birth certificate, which revealed his parents were E. Bennett and I.M., and that he was born in Buffalo, New York in 1944,” authorities wrote.
Prosecutors say that Bennett was convicted in a Connecticut rape and kidnapping case under his actual name. Jurors found him to be the masked man who forced his way into a home looking for the victim’s father. He tied her up, covered her eyes with tape and sexually assaulted her. He forced her into a car, where he and another person raped and sexually abused her for more than an hour, authorities said.
He was allowed to post bond under appeal. The Connecticut State Supreme Court affirmed his conviction, but he ducked serving his sentence and did not show up when ordered on May 24, 1976.
Sentencing is pending for aggravated identity theft, false statement in application and use of passport, fraud with identification documents, and unlawful transport of firearms.
Bennett’s family maintains his innocence in the rape case, according to The Tampa Bay Times.
The woman in that case reportedly said she glimpsed his face during the attack. Her father—who was Bennett’s employer—told police it sounded like him.
Bennett insisted this was mistaken identity. Granddaughter Kaytee Gallagher told the Times relatives hope DNA evidence may exonerate him.
“There were a lot of things about this case back then that did not happen properly,” she said.
[Images via U.S. State Department]
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