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'Elevator Man' Held in Sex Case

Moscow region investigators have detained a 45-year-old convicted serial rapist nicknamed "The Elevator Man" on suspicion of targeting teenage girls by pretending to be blind and poisoning at least one victim.

The suspect, Moscow resident Oleg Kosarev, was detained late Thursday at an apartment in Serpukhov, 100 kilometers south of Moscow, the Investigative Committee said in a statement Friday.

Serpukhov investigators, baffled by an attack on two teen girls in an elevator on April 7, got their break after contacting the Moscow investigator who sent Kosarev to jail for attacking underage girls in Moscow elevators in 1995, the statement said. The investigators learned that Kosarev had been freed from prison late last year after serving a 15-year sentence.

Kosarev, who earned the nickname "The Elevator Man" for cornering his victims in elevators, caused a minor panic in Moscow in the mid-1990s after going on a spree in which he attacked two to three girls aged 12 to 13 every day, reported. He took pictures of the victims after the attacks, the report said.

After his arrest in 1995, Kosarev admitted to sexually abusing 137 minors but was convicted of only 40, it reported.

He is suspected in at least two separate attacks in Serpukhov, news reports said.

In the April 7 attack, a man 40 to 50 years old wearing dark glasses threatened two high school students with a knife in the elevator of an apartment building in Serpukhov, robbing them of 4,000 rubles, jewelry and their cell phones, and sexually assaulting one of them, the local newspaper Okainfo reported.

On Feb. 25, a man wearing dark glasses and carrying three red carnations sexually assaulted a 13-year-old girl in the hall of a local apartment building, reported. After the attack, the man forced the girl to drink an unknown liquid that caused her to fall ill a couple hours later with a case of serious poisoning, the report said.

Kosarev has confessed to sexually abusing two minors in Serpukhov this year, the investigators' statement said.

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