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A serial sex offender who is serving a life sentence on several rape charges in Florida has been connected to at least 26 other sex crimes, police said.
A total of 15 new charges were filed against George Girtman, 67, who officials dubbed as the “Malibu Rapist” for multiple sexual batteries he committed in Orlando in the 1980s and '90s.
“That’s 26 different lives, drastically and unforgivably impacted by the same individual,” Lt. Frank Chisari, of the Orlando Police Department, told reporters on Tuesday. “Tragically, 11 of these survivors won’t hear today’s announcement. They passed away before the information came to light.”
Investigators suspect Girtman was active between 1985 and 1991. His moniker, the “Malibu Rapist,” is derived from the Orlando suburbs where the initial crimes happened, authorities said. He's been in prison since 1992 and was most recently sentenced to life in prison in 2011 for a 1990 armed rape, according to state records.
Special Victim’s Unit detectives used DNA evidence and other newly developed leads to pinpoint Girtman as the alleged perpetrator in the previously unsolved string of cold case rapes.
“Where there was DNA evidence, he pulled it to be re- tested,” Chisari said. “Between these new tests and other evidence, we determined George Girtman was responsible.”
Police said Girtman struck at random, allegedly targeting only women.
“We’ve since determined George Girtman chose his victims at random,” Chisari said. “Often by noticing children’s toys that were left in the yard. He would break into these people’s homes often in the middle of the night and armed with a knife. To his victims, he was a complete stranger.”
His victims included women and girls between the age of 6 and 40, officials said.
“We believe that the victims should have a voice,” Chisari added. “Filing these charges gives these victims the opportunity to receive justice, to have their voices heard, where they can say in their own words how these violent crimes impacted them for the rest of their lives. This man is a sick individual who committed unspeakable acts over and over again.”
Gail Gardner was one of Girtman’s victims. She was allegedly raped at knifepoint Girtman in 1988.
“I was raped by someone who had broken into my home,” Gail Gardner told WFTV in February. “I can now focus on other things.”
For three decades, Gardner’s rape kit was untested. Last year, however, she said investigators zeroed in on a match.
“I think about how he could have killed me then, in the dark. How he could have killed, went in the other room, and killed my son,” Gardner told WESH-2. "I shudder, at how close to death I was. He did leave a knife mark on my face.”
Gardner is also the subject of a pending state law designed to empower cold case rape victims, as well as future survivors of sexual assault. “Gail’s Law” proposes mandatory DNA testing of all of the state’s backlogged rape kits and a statewide database.
The bill also would give survivors the capability to track their rape kits through the legal system. The legislation also dictates the state has up to 180 days to inform survivors if any results come back.
"It allows the survivors to keep track of 'Where are you on my case? Can I relax? Am I okay? Have you found somebody?' And I think that is the least we can ask for," State Senator Linda Stewart, who sponsored the Senate version of the bill, also told WESH-2.
“Gail’s Law” was unanimously passed by the state’s Senate Appropriations Committee in April. The law is expected to be presented to Florida Governor Ron DeSantis — to be signed or vetoed — in the coming weeks.
“There is no reason why we should be able to track a pizza more efficiently than we can track critical evidence in a sexual assault case,” Rep. Emily Slosberg added. “Gail’s Law will bring more accountability to the investigation of sexual assaults and reduce the potential for evidence to go untested and for perpetrators to escape justice.”
Official charges are forthcoming, according to Orange-Osceola State Attorney’s Office. Prosecutors declined to further comment on the case on Tuesday.
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