Alleged serial sexual predator makes first court appearance

Finally a crack in a case that has had Ottawa residents on edge for months.

Police have arrested a man they believe is the serial sexual predator now believed to be responsible for at least six sexual assaults that took place across the city between August 2012 and October 2013.

Yousef Hussein, 25, was arrested without incident Thursday afternoon in the city's west end.

He made his first court appearance Friday afternoon by video. Seven of his family members were in court, including his wife.

Hussein's lawyer, Jason Gilbert, says Hussein is doing as good as anyone under arrest could be, saying he's "holding up."

Hussein is slim and was wearing a purple shirt with black pants for his appearance.

Gilbert says Hussein is a Jordanian national. There is a publication ban in the case, including the names of the complainants. Hussein will be back in court on May 21 by video.

Police say he is in Canada on an expired student visa and that he owns a small moving company.

Investigators initially identified three cases they said were positively linked: one on Banner Road near Greenbank in August 2012, another on a footpath between Lancaster and Erinbrook Crescent on June 26th, 2013 and a third on Aldea Avenue in October of that year.

Police Chief Charles Bordeleau said they were able to link the suspect to an additional three of seven unsolved cases that investigators flagged for similarities with the assaults on Banner, the footpath and Aldea.

A team of eight investigators made several public appeals for information and worked countless hours to make an arrest in these cases.

"The task force received hundreds of public tips and identified over 100 people of interest through a professional, methodical and thorough process," said Bordeleau. "This was not an easy task and the investigation involved members across the Ottawa Police Service."

Staff Sgt. Angela McDade with the Sexual Assault and Child Abuse Unit said it is a relief to have finally made an arrest.

"It's very stressful when month after month you're not identifying the person responsible, but moving forward and just keeping faith that it will happen - and it did - and we'll continue to investigate any of the unsolved investigations that remain."

She said they have contacted the victims about the development in this case.

"Although we can't take back what happened to them, I hope that by identifying the man responsible for harming them that it does bring some sense of closure for them," she said.

Hussein is charged with six counts of sexual assault, three counts of overcoming resistance, two counts of break and enter and two counts of committing an indecent act.

There are still four more unsolved sexual assaults that present similarities to the six in which Hussein is charged and police are not ruling out more charges as the investigation continues.

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