Michigan man charged in 2000 rape of Penn State student named in lawsuit by accuser

·3 min read

A Michigan man charged with the 2000 rape of a Penn State student at a golf course in Happy Valley was named Thursday in a lawsuit brought by his accuser.

A 42-year-old southeastern Pennsylvania woman identified only by her initials accused Kurt A. Rillema, 51, of false imprisonment, assault and battery, and intentional infliction of emotional distress.

“Victims of rape and sexual assault often suffer for life,” attorney Conor Lamb said in a statement. “Cases like this one are important to show that victims should never lose hope that it is possible to achieve justice for these crimes, whether through criminal or civil law, or both.”

The 10-page lawsuit spelled out many of the details first released when Rillema was arrested in April. He’s facing felony charges after DNA from a coffee cup linked him to two rapes in different states more than two decades ago.

A Centre County prosecutor that announced plans to charge Rillema said the Penn State police investigation was aided by advancements in investigative genetic genealogy.

The first rape Rillema is accused of was reported in 1999 at a golf course about 30 miles north of Detroit. Investigators collected DNA, but did not have a suspect, Oakland County Sheriff Michael Bouchard said during a press conference.

The second was reported in 2000 by a 19-year-old Penn State student who said she was raped at knifepoint near the 18th hole of the university’s Blue Course. She reported the attack the night it’s alleged to have occurred.

Investigators worked for years to develop a suspect. DNA samples submitted to a national database got a match, turning the attention of investigators as early as 2004 toward looking for one man.

A DNA technology company that can help police find suspects by searching for relatives in public databases and building family trees concluded it was likely one of three brothers who were responsible for the rapes, Centre County First Assistant District Attorney Sean McGraw said in April.

Investigators honed in on Rillema and trailed him in January, collecting a Styrofoam coffee cup he discarded. The DNA taken from the cup matched the DNA collected as part of the rape investigation, McGraw said.

Rillema worked as a managing member of a national mechanical contractor until his arrest. Investigators have also described him as an avid golfer who played throughout the country.

Bouchard urged others who were sexually abused at a golf course to contact their local police department. Rillema is incarcerated at the Oakland County Jail without bond.

Defense lawyer Deanna Kelley wrote in a text message Friday that she appealed the decision to deny him bond, arguing it is a violation of his due process rights. A decision has not yet been handed down.

Kelley, who only represents Rillema in the criminal charges filed against him, plans to mount constitutional challenges to the evidence.

“The outcome of this case depends largely on the outcome of that challenge,” she wrote.

Rillema’s accuser, of Montgomery County, is seeking compensatory and punitive damages. It is not known if he has an attorney who represents him in the lawsuit.

Kurt Rillema
Kurt Rillema