Former Navy man pleads guilty to series of rapes

A former Navy man pleaded guilty Friday to committing a series of rapes in Ocean Beach, Mission Beach and the College area attributed to the “A.M. Rapist.”

Stephen Darien Richardson, 34, pleaded guilty to five counts of forcible rape and admitted a multiple-victim allegation. He will be sentenced to 75 years to life on April 23 and will not be eligible for parole until he’s 98, prosecutors said.

The defendant was arrested last August in Arlington Heights, Ill., where he had been living for about five years.

He was identified through a fingerprint on a window screen from a Sept. 2, 2000, sexual assault of a woman in Ocean Beach, according to testimony at a preliminary hearing last September.

A series of rapes of women in their mid-20s was attributed to a man police called the “A.M. Rapist.”

San Diego police Officer Jeffrey Martinez testified that the victim from the Sept. 2, 2000, rape told him that her attacker said, “Tell me you love me, tell me you love me,” as he assaulted her.

Detective Steve Bernier testified that the woman told him her assailant used a chokehold similar to one she trained on when she was in the Army.

Based on that information, the woman said she believed her attacker had military or law enforcement experience, Bernier testified.

Investigators later learned that Richardson was in the Navy from 1995 to 2000 and was based at Miramar from December 1999 to his discharge in December 2000.

Richardson also lived in an apartment on Ingraham Street from May to October 2000, which was four miles from two rapes that occurred during that time period.

In August 2005, police in Arlington Heights, Ill., said they matched a DNA profile taken at the San Diego crime scenes with an unsolved rape in their city from 2003.

Last July, a fingerprint taken from one of the rape scenes in San Diego was matched to Richardson, police said.

In each of the San Diego cases, the women said they were awakened by a male on top of them, with his arm around their neck, then sexually assaulted, police said.