A Durham County judge this week sentenced a 48-year-old serial rapist to a minimum of 24 years behind bars for his part in three sexual assaults dating back to 2010.

Michael Brooks pleaded guilty Wednesday in Durham County Superior Court to two counts of second-degree rape, one count of first-degree rape, and one count of assault on a handicapped person, the Durham County District Attorney’s Office said in a press release.

The DA’s office credited a cold case initiative with ensuring Brooks will spend decades in prison. 

According to the release, Brooks is one of more than a dozen people who have been charged through the Sexual Assault Kit Initiative involving the Durham Police Department’s Cold Case Sexual Assault Unit.

Since 2019, the DA’s office, Durham police, and the Durham Crisis Response Center have partnered to review results from sexual assault kit testing to track down assailants. The DA’s office has assigned a prosecutor to work with the Cold Case Sexual Assault Unit and prosecute sexual assault cases “including those that stem from the Police Department’s efforts to submit previously untested evidence kits for testing,” according to the release.

In each of Brook’s three sexual assaults, the victims knew him and identified him as the assailant. Evidence against Brooks was bolstered by the sexual assault evidence kits in each case, according to the release.

The most recent assault happened in September 2017, when a 68-year-old woman allowed Brooks to sleep on her couch after he told her he had nowhere to go. Brooks later entered the victim’s room, choked her until she lost consciousness, and raped her.

Police charged Brooks for the offense in November of that year, and he was awaiting trial in jail.

A second rape occurred in June 2016, when Brooks was at the home of a 36-year-old woman and asked for a ride home. Once they were inside the victim’s car, Brooks pulled out a knife. 

Investigators filed charges against Brooks in 2019 after the case was re-investigated.

Finally, in September 2010, Brooks and a woman were walking alone together when he pushed her into a ditch, hit her in the head, and raped her. Police filed charges against Brooks last year after a sexual assault evidence kit was tested and the victim, who was 25 at the time of the offense, agreed to move forward with the case.

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Follow Durham Staff Writer Thomasi McDonald on Twitter or send an email to tmcdonald@indyweek.com.