Philadelphia man arrested in sexual assaults, armed robberies

 Philadelphia Police Department headquarters at 7th and Race streets (Kimberly Paynter/WHYY)

Philadelphia Police Department headquarters at 7th and Race streets (Kimberly Paynter/WHYY)

A suspect in a series of “brazen” armed robberies and sexual assaults in West Philadelphia is now in custody.

Robert Johnson, 51, surrendered to detectives early Thursday morning thanks to a tip from someone who knows him, police said.

“It’s a relief for me. I can imagine it’s even more of a relief for the people who live out there,” said Capt. Mark Burgmann with the Special Victims Unit.

Johnson, a registered sex offender, will be charged with sexually assaulting three women earlier this month near Belmont Plateau, a popular section of Fairmount Park. He was convicted of sexual assault charges in 2000 and 2006 and labeled a “sexually violent predator.”

On July 17 around 5:45 a.m., Johnson approached a woman at a bus stop at Belmont and Parkside avenues, police said. Wielding a gun, he forced her to walk into the park before sexually assaulting her under a tree, police said, and then ran off with her headphones and cell phone.

On July 19 around 4:20 a.m., Johnson pushed a gun into the side of a woman pumping gas at 4800 W. Girard Ave., police said. He forced her to drive her car, occupied by another woman, to an unknown location, police said. He allegedly assaulted both women inside the car.

Police also believe Johnson committed another sexual assault on June 30.

Detectives are also looking into whether he’s responsible for other robberies in the area.

“Anybody who has any other information about things or crimes he may have committed can contact us at Special Victims. If they want to remain anonymous that’s fine,” said Burgmann.

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