CHARLOTTE, N.C. - The community and police were stunned after two sexual assaults occurred on the campus of John C. Smith University in the fall.
“It’s my nightmare,” said JCSU President Ronald Carter. “The nightmare of any administrator.”
In a 9 investigation, Channel 9 learned officers believed the suspect is a predator who has been strategically targeting women in Charlotte for more than a decade, but he has only served one year in prison.
Maj. Mike Smathers got an alert within minutes of two alleged sexual assaults in October.
“Multiple sexual assaults took place for both women,” Smathers said.
He said the incidents sent shockwaves through the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department because among officers, the man that was accused, Frederick Eugene Sullivan, is notorious.
Since 1995, Sullivan was named in 13 cases and arrested seven times on sexual assault charges.
“Unequivocally, he is a serial rapist,” Smathers said.
A 14-year-old girl accused Sullivan of raping her at Oaklawn Cemetery. Others ranged in age from 16 to 24.
Some said Sullivan held them at knife point during the attacks. Most of the cases ended in dismissals or plea deals.
“He’s never suffered a severe consequence for the acts that we believe he’s committed,” Smathers said.
Smathers said part of the challenge in prosecution is that to the accusers, Sullivan is not a stranger.
“It’s the toughest crime to prove in court,” victims' advocate Brandy Stephens said.
Stephens said in more than 90 percent of sex assaults, women know their attacker. They're casual acquaintances, friends, co-workers or relatives.
She said women can be hesitant to testify because of shame, fear or threats and concerns that their credibility is on trial.
“Which is unfortunate, because it really should be about the defendant and what the defendant’s behavior was and it’s on the prosecution and sometimes it’s a ‘he said, she said,’” Stephens said.
Smathers said he believes Sullivan methodically plots his own evidence, initiating and saving previous communication with his victims to use in court later.
“Obviously, you can read a lot into texts. There can be ambiguity to texts and they can be subject to interpretation,” he said.
It will likely all come up in court in the two most recent cases at JCSU, as detectives hope to show a pattern of behavior, introducing cases from Sullivan's past so he will stay behind bars.
Sullivan is in jail on a $1.3 million bond. Channel 9 contacted his public defender but never heard back about a comment from him or a court date.