A convicted sex offender who was cleared by a jury of rape charges in September has been linked through DNA to two other rapes, including a November attack on a woman in her Reservoir Hill home, court records show.
Nelson Bernard Clifford of the 800 block of Brooks Lane was charged Dec. 6 with raping a woman at knifepoint after breaking into her home while she was sleeping about 9 p.m. Nov. 12, according to charging documents. Police say he blindfolded her, bound her hands and threatened to slash her face.
During the course of the investigation, police were notified that his DNA matched evidence collected at the scene, records show. The woman was shown a photo lineup and wasn't able to pick him out, but said she had never had consensual sex with any of the men pictured, records show.
Court records show he was also charged with a rape that occurred Nov. 10. Court documents from that case were not immediately available.
Clifford, whom court records list alternatively as 33 or 34 years old, has a history of sex crimes dating to 1997, when he was charged with rape and convicted of a second-degree sex offense, receiving 10 years in prison. That conviction required him to register as a sex offender.
Since 2007, he has been charged in at least nine other cases, including counterfeit trademark, sex offenses, failing to register as a sex offender and drug possession, records show.
The Reservoir Hill victim's sister, who requested anonymity so her sister's name wouldn't become public, said her sister has "exiled" herself since the attack. The Baltimore Sun does not identify the victims of sex crimes.
Given the suspect's history of previous crimes, she said, the system let her sister down.
"He should've been off the streets the first time he failed to register," the 30-year-old woman said.
In March 2010, Clifford was charged with rape and false imprisonment, but court records show a jury acquitted him in September of all charges except for a fourth-degree burglary charge. For that conviction, he was sentenced to a year and seven months, or essentially time served.
Four days later, he was charged with drug possession; 13 days after that, he was charged with failing to register as a sex offender. That case was dropped Nov. 1 in Circuit Court. And one day before the Reservoir Hill attack, he was charged again with failing to register as a sex offender.
Clifford is being held without bail on the latest charges.