Cuyahoga County

Serial rapist faces life in prison


Cleveland – A serial rapist whose crimes began more than two decades ago has been sentenced to life in prison with a first chance of parole in 35 years, Cuyahoga County Prosecutor Timothy J. McGinty announced today.

Van “Apples” Patterson, 44, of Cleveland, was convicted on January 22 by a jury for a pair of rapes that took place in 1995 and 2009. He had a prior conviction in 2000 for Sexual Battery committed against a teenage family member.

Today, Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Court Judge Brendan J. Sheehan sentenced Patterson to life in prison with a first chance of parole after 35 years.

Before the judge handed down the sentence, Patterson’s 1995 victim told the court that she had spent 20 years “looking over my shoulder, wondering if this could happen again.” Assistant Prosecuting Attorney Mary Weston described how Patterson had lured this victim, who was then 16, into his car, then raped her.
The second rape for which Patterson was convicted involved a 27-year-old woman who had been drinking at a bar and woke up in an abandoned house after having been sexually assaulted. Patterson was acquitted at last month’s trial on rape charges from a 1997 incident involving another teenager.

“I look at the trail of destruction you’ve left in your lifetime. At least since your 20s, you’ve preyed upon women, vulnerable women,” said Judge Sheehan. “The women in our community deserve better. They deserve to walk outside without being hunted because you cannot control yourself.”

Patterson was identified as a suspect in both rapes after the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation tested backlogged sexual assault kits as part of a statewide initiative spearheaded by Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine. The results were then investigated and prosecuted by the Cuyahoga County Sexual Assault Kit Task Force, a collaboration that involves the Cuyahoga County Prosecutor’s Office, BCI, the Cuyahoga County Sheriff’s Department, the Cleveland Division of Police and Cleveland Rape Crisis Center.

“The reason we are in a hurry and determined to prosecute the entire backlog of rape kits is that timely prosecution absolutely stops serial rapists from raping additional women as Patterson did here in 2009,” said Prosecutor McGinty. “Our Task Force has found that 36 percent of the DNA matches in the stockpile that we prosecute are serial sex offenders.”

Since its creation in 2013, the work of the Task Force has led to 446 indictments and 138 convictions. The conviction rate for completed cases now stands at 91 percent.

Contact: Joseph Frolik, Director of Communications and Public Policy. Phone: 216.443.7488 or Email: