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Registered sex offender traps, rapes St. Petersburg woman, police say

ST. PETERSBURG — A 55-year-old registered sex offender repeatedly raped a woman he held captive in his apartment for several hours early Saturday morning, according to St. Petersburg police.

Earnest Napper, also known as Ernest Napper, was arrested Saturday afternoon on charges of sexual battery by threat of force or violence and false imprisonment.

The 24-year-old victim, who was not identified by police, said she does not know Napper. It is also the policy of the St. Petersburg Times not to identify sexual assault victims.

The woman met her alleged attacker about 1:30 a.m. outside his building and asked for a cigarette, she told police. Napper told her to come up to his apartment in the 500 block of Ninth Avenue N to get it, police said.

Once inside, police said, Napper shut the door and locked it. He demanded she have intercourse with him, police said, and threatened her life if she didn't comply. He beat and choked the woman and sexually assaulted her several times, police said.

Napper released the victim about 7:45 a.m. She reported the rape to a friend and police and took officers to his apartment. Napper was arrested about noon that afternoon.

Napper's first arrest was at age 16 in St. Petersburg in 1972 on a charge of burglary, according to records. Six years later he was arrested in Pinellas County on one count of sexual battery with a weapon and two counts of burglary. He was 22 at the time.

In that incident, according to a 1978 article in the Times, Napper broke into a woman's house and crawled into her bed, police said. Napper assaulted the woman when she tried to leave, according to police, and raped her several times. He threatened her life with a butcher knife and held her captive for hours, police said.

He pleaded no contest and was adjudicated guilty by a judge, records show. In 1980 Napper was sentenced to 30 years in prison. He was released in 2003 after serving 28 years. In 2005 he spent another year behind bars for failing to comply with the conditions placed upon him as a sexual offender, records show.

Then from 2006 to 2009, Pinellas records show he racked up more arrests for disorderly conduct, trespassing and battery.

Napper told police he often lets homeless women stay at his place. He also said he was being treated for mental problems. But when they asked him about the sexual assault allegations, according to police, he asked for a lawyer and declined to speak.

Napper was being held Monday in the Pinellas County jail in lieu of $110,000 bail.

Times researcher Shirl Kennedy contributed to this report. Jamal Thalji can be reached at thalji@sptimes.com or (727) 893-8472.

Registered sex offender traps, rapes St. Petersburg woman, police say 01/03/11 [Last modified: Monday, January 3, 2011 6:35pm]
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