(WTNH) – A jury found a Marlborough man guilty in 36-year-old sexual assault cases on Wednesday.
Michael Sharpe, a former CEO of the charter school group that ran Jumoke Academy in Hartford, was arrested in 2020 in connection to four sexual assaults that dated back to 1984. Sharpe was charged with kidnapping since the statute of limitations ran out on sexual assault.
Following his arrest, Sharpe posted bail and was out on bond until his trial.
Investigators said they used a national DNA database to hone in on Sharpe. In the arrest warrant, investigators said it was stranger sexual assault and kidnapping and it happened right inside the victims’ homes. According to investigators, in all four cases, the victims said basically the same thing: A man broke into a house late at night, entered the bedroom of a sleeping woman, blindfolded her, sexually assaulted her, and then stayed in the apartment or house for hours, sometimes drinking their beer or eating food before leaving.
Investigators said they retrieved Sharpe’s DNA from the trash in front of his house to connect him to this case.
“We were able to secure one bag of garbage that had a mail with his name on it, two belts, and a fork and the lab was able to secure DNA off the belt which was enough to give us a search warrant for the confirmatory sample,” said John Fahey.
The sexual assaults were spread out across Connecticut including in Rocky Hill, Middletown, Bloomfield, and Windsor.
In 2014, Sharpe resigned from the Jumoke Academy in Hartford after his criminal history came to light.
On Wednesday, a jury found Sharpe guilty of eight first-degree kidnapping charges. His bond was increased to $2.5 million and he is currently being held in custody.
Sharpe is expected to be sentenced in January of 2023.
Experts said that advances in technology have come a long way — and are now helping to solve older cases.
“Whenever we think about forensic DNA analysis, and where we started, and where we are today, it’s truly just absolutely phenomenal of what has occurred over the last 35-plus years,” said Claire Glynn, an associate professor, and director of the forensic genetic genealogy program at the University of New Haven.
More recently, Glynn said experts have been able to generate a prediction of what a suspect might look like from their DNA. That can include hair color, eye color, and skin color.
“We’ve reached greater levels of sensitivity,” she said. “So, we can detect, and amplify and get a DNA profile from an absolutely, tiny, tiny, tiny amounts of DNA.”