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Cuyahoga County sexual assault suspect identified through genealogical DNA matching pleads guilty

Cuyahoga County G.O.L.D. Unit investigators were able to identify Leo Bradley Scott III by linking his DNA to others in a genealogical database.

CLEVELAND — A Cleveland man has admitted in court to sexually assaulting two women more than 20 years ago.

Sixty-one-year-old Leo Bradley Scott pleaded guilty Monday to one count of rape and one count of sexual battery in connection with the incidents that occurred in 1994 and 1998, respectively. He previously served more than six years in prison for a prior 1983 rape in East Cleveland, and Cuyahoga County investigators were able to identify him this time through genealogical testing provided by their Genetic Operations Linking DNA (G.O.L.D.) Unit.

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According to prosecutors, the October 1994 crime involved Scott grabbing a 22-year-old woman walking on Euclid Avenue in Cleveland before dragging her, threatening her, and eventually assaulting her. Four years later in April of 1998, a 23-year-old female victim was walking home from an East Cleveland club when Scott apparently pulled her into his car and drove her to a Shaw Avenue parking lot, where she, too, was assaulted.

Doctors collected samples from both survivors using rape kits, but the results went untested until 2013, when the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation began running tests on a backlog of such kits from 1993-2011. Moreover, Scott's 1983 guilty plea for rape occurred before the establishment of the felony DNA database, meaning his DNA was not collected at the time.

When the testing of both victims' rape kits initially yielded no matches, the DNA was placed in the national database as "John Doe #64." In 2020, the U.S. Department of Justice awarded a $1 million grant to the Cuyahoga County Prosecutor's Office that helped established the G.O.L.D. Unit, and authorities soon launched a pilot program to review 20 "most wanted" profiles linked to cold case sexual assaults. "John Doe #64" was selected as one of those profiles.

Through a partnership with testing company Gene by Gene, officials hoped to find familial links to the DNA profiles which they could then use to trace back for a positive identification. Following extensive analysis, "John Doe #64's" DNA was indeed traced back to Scott, and prosecutors say this was later confirmed through testing his own DNA that was secretly obtained.

Scott was arrested for the assaults on July 20, 2021, and has been held in the Cuyahoga County Jail ever since. Besides his prior guilty plea for rape, he also has prior convictions for grand theft, carrying a concealed weapon, violating his probation, and attempted assault of a peace officer in the 1980s and '90s.

"This sexual predator deserves to be held accountable for his actions," Cuyahoga County Prosecutor Michael C. O'Malley said in a statement. "This arrest was led by the G.O.L.D. Unit, and I am proud of their work which uses genealogical research to solve these violent crimes against the most vulnerable victims."

Scott will be sentenced for his latest crimes on March 1 at 10 a.m. Due to his previous rape conviction, he could face more than 20 years behind bars.

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