Suspected serial rapist in Mesa, Tempe indicted on 30 felonies
PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) - A man accused of being behind a string of sexual assaults where charges had been previously dismissed in the East Valley has been officially charged. Maricopa County Attorney Rachel Mitchell announced on Friday a grand jury indicted 32-year-old James Estep on 30 felonies, including 20 charges linked to sexual assault. In the indictment, Estep is connected to six victims between September 2018 and August. Earlier this week, prosecutors had charged him with five attacks since 2021. He was arrested last week in Tempe and is still behind bars on a $500,000 cash-only bond.
The case gained scrutiny in April after Estep was arrested in connection to two sexual assaults, one on May 2, 2021, and one on April 16 in Mesa. Police recommended charges, but Mitchell said there wasn’t enough evidence at the time to pursue charges.
Investigators say in June, Estep struck again, where he kidnapped another victim. On July 2, court paperwork said Estep raped a woman at his home after they met at a Tempe bar. That case was also sent back to police as prosecutors said they didn’t have enough evidence for a conviction. On Aug. 22, police say he kidnapped and raped a 15-year-old girl. He was arrested the next day.
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