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E. Baltimore rape suspect ordered held without bail


A 19-year-old man charged in a series of sexual attacks against women and girls exiting buses in East Baltimore was ordered held without bail yesterday.

Rodney Madottis Johnson has been charged with rape, two counts of first-degree sexual offense and sodomy - each of which carries a maximum sentence of life in prison.

Johnson, arrested Friday at his mother's rowhouse in the 1600 block of Ashland Ave., will be confined at the Baltimore City Detention Center until his trial or an indictment in Circuit Court.

District Judge George M. Lipman issued his ruling after a brief hearing at the Central Booking and Intake Center and an unusual request by the suspect's lawyer to restrict public discussion of the case.

Lipman allowed Roland Bevins, who screens suspects for pretrial services, to read into the record only a brief summary of the alleged crimes.

The judge also allowed a request by Johnson's lawyer to have the suspect remain seated among other defendants - all wearing yellow jumpsuits - to make it difficult for a television news sketch artist to complete a drawing.

The lawyer, Assistant Public Defender Deborah N. Abramson, argued that a public photograph or sketch of her client could prompt other alleged victims to falsely link Johnson to crimes.

She offered no argument against holding her client without bail. Bevins told the judge that Johnson was convicted as an adult of armed robbery in 1997 - when he was 16 - and remains on probation.

Police have said that five women and girls have been assaulted in a similar manner in the past five weeks. Johnson has been charged in two of the attacks, which involved girls ages 14 and 15.

The series of assaults all occurred during the daylight and in secluded places off Orleans Street, near Johns Hopkins Hospital and several schools. Employees and students had been warned to walk in pairs since the assaults began, and a sketch of the suspect was distributed throughout East Baltimore.

Johnson's mother, Alice Lyons, 40, told a reporter on Friday that her son denies the sexual assault charges. Court charging documents filed yesterday show that the 14- and 15-year-olds picked Johnson's photo from a lineup on Friday.

The first case in which Johnson is charged occurred Aug. 22 at 8:30 a.m. Court records show that a girl, 14, was approached by a man riding a mountain bike after she got off an MTA bus at Monument and Ensor streets. The girl told police she was raped in the 900 block of Somerset Street, behind a bush and an electrical box.

The 15-year-old girl told police she was raped Aug. 31 about 8 a.m., after leaving an MTA bus at Orleans Street and Central Avenue.

Johnson also has been charged with attempted rape, perverted practice and assault.

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