Guilty pleas in rape case
Serial rape incidents
Michael R. Huber, 32, was arrested in February 2008. Janesville police believe he is responsible for six home invasion and sometimes rape incidents:
Aug. 3, 1998: A 26-year-old woman is raped in her home in the 1800 block of South Willard Avenue.
July 9, 1999: A 23-year-old woman is raped in her home in the 2100 block of South Oakhill Avenue.
Oct. 14, 2000: A 33-year-old woman putting her two children to bed at 4 a.m. finds a man standing in the bedroom of their home in the 2000 block of Green Valley Drive. The man flees after the woman tosses a cordless phone to her 7-year-old son and tells him to call 911.
May 8, 2001: A woman sleeping in her home in the 200 block of Brakefield Drive is awakened by a man who lifts her shirt but doesn't touch her. The man leaves after the woman asks him to close her 8-year-old daughter's bedroom door.
Aug. 20, 2003: A teenage Janesville girl sleeping overnight at her grandmother's home on Parkview Drive is raped by a man who breaks into the home.
July 27, 2005: A man wakes a 37-year-old woman in the 2100 block of Green Valley Drive at about 3 a.m. and threatens her with a handgun. The woman is not sexually assaulted.
JANESVILLE For nearly 10 years, the Janesville home-invasion rapist haunted the city.
Residents were on edge, fearing the rapist might strike again.
Women bought extra locks for their doors and attended self-defense classes.
People were shocked such crimes could hit so close to home.
"There were a lot of people connected to these victims either by contact or by proximity to the neighborhood," Janesville police detective Erik Goth said. "They felt like this was something that could happen to them."
Michael R. Huber, 32, was arrested in February 2008 on suspicion of committing six home invasions and sometimes rapes from 1998 to 2005, giving residents relief.
He pleaded guilty in Rock County Court on Wednesday to six felony charges of first-degree sexual assault. He changed his plea as part of a plea agreement.
A seventh charge of second-degree sexual assault of a child was dismissed.
Attorneys on both sides are free to argue punishment at sentencing.
Huber's attorney, Joshua Klaff, could not comment on why Huber decided to accept responsibility.
"Frequently, in cases like this, defendants want to plead guilty because they don't want alleged victims to have to relive any of the events and especially have to testify," he said.
Huber's change of plea came the day after the judge denied Huber's request to keep DNA evidence out of trial, leaving the state with fingerprint and DNA evidence against Huber.
"I don't think there is any question that the DNA would have played a significant role at the trial," Janesville Police Deputy Chief Steve Kopp said. "I think with this plea coming on the heels of the motion being denied, you can probably read something into that."
Huber was charged in a 1998 assault against a 27-year-old woman and a 2003 attack against a 13-year-old girl, according to the criminal complaint.
Detectives believe one man committed all six invasions because of a distinct method of operation.
Huber threatened his victims with a gun in two incidents, according to the criminal complaint.
The attacks had become so alarming that police held community meetings.
"Pretty much everybody wanted to know how and why the victims had been targeted," Goth said. "And they also wanted to know how to best protect themselves and how to safeguard their homes."
Police took their investigation to new heights in an effort to solve the case.
Investigators worked with the FBI. They created response plans for the next attack. And they trained 911 dispatchers on how to handle rapist-related calls.
"I can say with certainty that these series of cases was the most complex and far-reaching investigation of any that has taken place since I've been here," Kopp said. "For years, this case was being actively worked. The detectives were devoting significant part of their work weeks to that case."
After Huber's arrest, a few people in the city lashed out against him.
A vandal spray-painted "rape" on Huber's garage door.
Huber's wife told police traffic had increased past her home. Passersby even shouted from their vehicles.
Police had to add extra patrol in Huber's neighborhood.
Two of the victims were overjoyed after learning of Huber's capture, police said. Four other victims cried.
Women citywide no longer had to worry whether they were being watched, followed or targeted, retired detective Martin Altstadt said.
"The community as a whole felt much better at the time he was arrested," Altstadt said. "They probably had a sense of relief."
Huber remains locked in the Rock County Jail without an opportunity to post bond.
He will be sentenced Friday, June 26.