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Former Duluth man convicted of drugging, raping woman in 2013

Authorities said he was also suspected of raping a second victim, but that woman has since died.

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A former Duluth man has been convicted of drugging and raping a woman in a 2013 case that was reopened after initially being closed without charges.

A St. Louis County jury on Friday found 58-year-old Alvin Perkins guilty of first-degree criminal sexual conduct. Perkins, who has seven prior felony convictions in Minnesota, will likely face a lengthy prison sentence.

A criminal complaint filed in January alleges that Perkins picked up two women, who were unknown to him, in downtown Duluth in August 2013 and brought them to his East Hillside apartment, where he provided them with an unidentified sleep-inducing drug.

One woman later told police she woke up to being sexually assaulted. She reported that she fled the apartment and encountered the other woman, who also said she had been raped, according to the complaint.

Duluth Police Department spokeswoman Ingrid Hornibrook earlier told the News Tribune that the case was investigated at the time, but it was closed in 2016. The precise reason was not documented in police records, she said, but such closures are often attributable to loss of contact with victims.

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Hornibrook said the case was reopened in April 2017, when contact was re-established with one of the victims. Additional investigation and forensic testing also was completed at the request of prosecutors prior to charging.

While the complaint alleges that both women were sexually assaulted by Perkins, only one charge could be filed because the other victim has since died, Assistant St. Louis County Attorney Vicky Wanta said.

Wanta said the jury found Perkins guilty under two alternate theories โ€” that the victim was mentally incapacitated and physically helpless. The jury returned guilty verdicts on both charges, though Perkins will only be sentenced on one count as both were part of the same act.

A check of Minnesota criminal records reveals more than three dozen cases opened against Perkins since 1989, mostly in the Duluth area. He has been convicted repeatedly for financial fraud and theft-related offenses, and other cases include assault, harassment, controlled-substance crimes and escape from custody. He has also faced charges in Wisconsin and Illinois.

Wanta previously indicated she would seek an enhanced sentence under the state's "career offender" statute on the basis that Perkins has five or more prior felony convictions. The charge carries a maximum of 30 years in prison.

Sixth Judicial District Judge Dale Harris scheduled sentencing for Jan. 6.

According to court documents:

The two women were among a group drinking at the Clayton Jackson McGhie Memorial at the corner of North Second Avenue East and First Street in the early morning hours of Aug. 21, 2013, when they were approached by an unknown man.

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The man asked the two women if they wanted to continue drinking at his apartment. Neither of the women knew the man. They agreed to accompany him to his residence at North 11th Avenue East and Third Street.

The living victim told police that the man provided them with pills that she believed to be the painkiller Lortab. After ingesting seven or eight pills, she quickly started getting sleepy and realized it was not the substance she had used in the past.

The woman told police she later awoke and found the man on top of her, sexually assaulting her. She jumped up, crying and screaming, and tried to put on some clothes and leave. The man stood in front of the door and said, "Where do you think you're going?" before punching her in the nose.

The victim said she "thought it was in her best interest to act nice towards him" and spent 20 or 30 minutes talking with him. After convincing the man to get her a glass of water, she ran out of the residence. She was met outside by the other victim, who also reported being sexually assaulted by the man.

Exams were performed on both women at a hospital, with one confirmed to have a swollen nose. DNA swabs were collected and sent to the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension for analysis. Samples from both victims were later found to contain a mixture of DNA from two or more people, with the state's convicted-offender database returning "hits" for Perkins.

In a follow-up interview, the living victim said she does not know anyone named "Alvin" and has never had consensual sex with anyone by that name. Police said Perkins matched the physical description given by the victim.

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Alvin Perkins, 6/19/1961

Tom Olsen has covered crime and courts for the Duluth News Tribune since 2013. He is a graduate of the University of Minnesota Duluth and a lifelong resident of the city. Readers can contact Olsen at 218-723-5333 or tolsen@duluthnews.com.
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