Police: Wisconsin man suspect in Philly sex assaults

Police in Madison, Wisconsin say a man arrested there for sexual assault has been connected to at least three other violent attacks in Philadelphia that have gone unsolved.

Robert Palen, 38, is accused of brutally beating a woman he met online.

The victim, a woman in her 40s, told police she’d never met Palen in person before the night of Dec. 30, when he came to visit her home.

There, he allegedly battered, choked and sexually assaulted her. Police said the victim was able to escape her apartment and call for help. Palen initially fled, according to investigators, but was later arrested at his home in Middleton. 

DNA found at the crime scene was entered into a national database. A Philadelphia detective last week contacted the case detective in Madison and said the search turned up a match to DNA collected from a stranger assault that took place Aug, 3, 2011, according to a news release from the City of Madison Police Department.

The detective said Palen is also suspected in two other sexual assaults in Philadelphia, the release states. Police said Palen moved to Wisconsin from Philadelphia last year.

Palen was charged Jan. 6 with two felony counts of strangulation and suffocation, along with second-degree sexual assault, battery and disorderly conduct, all in connection with the Wisconsin case. He remained imprisoned Wednesday at the Dane County Jail.

Contact Alex Wigglesworth at 215-854-2305 or awigglesworth@philly.com. Follow @phila_lex on Twitter.

Contact the Breaking News Desk at 215-854-2443; BreakingNewsDesk@philly.com. Follow @phillynews on Twitter.