Man accused of sexual attacks beginning at age 14
Detroit — At an age when most teens are just starting to date, Michael Sykes was committing rape.
Sykes was 14 years old in 2008 when he sexually assaulted a woman in Highland Park. For that, he was convicted and served time in the Wayne County Juvenile Detention Facility.
Once he was released, police say, the 21-year-old allegedly raped three more women and was charged Wednesday in that incident. He also faces charges in the 2008 rape of two other women.
And investigators say they're looking into whether there were more.
Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy has charged Sykes in a March 29 incident in which he allegedly kidnapped, beat, raped and robbed three women, ages 19, 20 and 21.
That alleged incident near Fenkell and Schaefer on the city's northwest side is in the same area where at least two other recent rapes were reported. Police said they suspected one person was responsible for all of them.
"There are other matters that are continuing to be investigated related to Sykes," Assistant Wayne County Prosecutor Maria Miller said Wednesday.
Sykes has been charged with three counts of kidnapping, nine counts of first-degree criminal sexual conduct, two counts of second-degree criminal sexual conduct, two counts of armed robbery, three counts of felonious assault and felony firearm.
Also this week, Sykes was charged with another 2008 sexual assault, aside from the rape for which he was convicted. In that case, prosecutors allege he kidnapped, sexually assaulted and robbed two women, ages 18 and 19. For that, he was charged with two counts of kidnapping, six counts of criminal sexual conduct and two counts of unarmed robbery.
Sykes was arraigned Wednesday in 36th District Court and remanded to jail on both cases. A probable cause hearing is scheduled for Wednesday and preliminary examinations are scheduled for May 6.
Sykes did not have an attorney appointed as of Wednesday, according to the Wayne County courts website.
Police this month released a sketch of a man wearing a hoodie and zipper mask that covered the lower half of his face. Investigators said the man was suspected in at least three sexual assaults in northwest Detroit that began in March.
On April 16, Detroit police officers stopped a car for a traffic violation and spotted Sykes in the backseat, Assistant Detroit Police Chief Steve Dolunt said. Police would not say how they connected Sykes to the rapes.
"I'm told he put the mask on when we made the traffic stop, and he tried to get away," Dolunt said. "The officers caught him, and he wasn't cooperative."
Sykes was charged last week with assaulting/resisting/obstructing a police officer, and carrying a concealed weapon, prior to being charged with the sexual assaults.
If convicted of the most recent assaults, Sykes would be among a minority of underage sex offenders. According to the U.S. Department of Justice, Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, more than 90 percent of youths arrested for sex offenses will not do it again. That compares to 40 percent of adults arrested for sexual assault who commit future assaults.
The number of rapes in Detroit has dropped 33 percent year-to-date, with 120 this year as opposed to 179 during the same period in 2014.
The decline comes as officials try to process more than 11,000 untested rape kits that were discovered in a shuttered Detroit police crime laboratory. Worthy met this month with members of Congress seeking more funding to prosecute suspected rapists. Using a $4 million grant from the state and advocacy groups, Worthy said there have been 255 suspected serial rapists identified through the kits as of April 1.
As Sykes awaits his next court hearing for the most recent charges, more cases are pending, Worthy said in a statement.
"I would like to commend the work of the Detroit Police Department but our work is not done," Worthy said.
"We will continue to investigate any other cases related to this suspect."