A Rohnert Park man pleaded no contest in Sonoma County Superior Court this morning to sexually assaulting an 81-year-old woman in her apartment in November 2008.Paul Vernon Sullenger, 45, pleaded no contest to oral copulation by force and admitted that the crime occurred during a first-degree residential burglary at the elderly woman’s Copeland Creek apartment in Rohnert Park on Nov. 2, 2008. In June 2009, Sullenger allegedly returned to the victim’s apartment to burglarize it, but in that case the woman was awakened by barking dogs. She saw a man fleeing over her backyard fence, Rohnert Park police said.Police collected DNA evidence after the sexual assault and recovered a fingerprint after the June incident. On Sept. 14, 2009, the Department of Justice informed police that the DNA matched Sullenger, a sex offender registered in Houston, Texas. The fingerprint recovered outside the Rohnert Park apartment also matched Sullenger.He was arrested by Rohnert Park police on Sept. 17, 2009.Sullenger was convicted of sexual assault in Harrison County, Texas, in 1994. In that case, Sullenger attempted to sexually assault a woman in her 20s but that victim fought him off, Sonoma County Deputy Public Defender Karen Silver said.He will be sentenced Feb. 16 to 25 years to life in prison as part of today’s plea agreement. Sullenger’s preliminary hearing had been scheduled for today.He had been charged with oral copulation by force, residential burglary, attempted residential burglary, sexual battery and making threats, and faced 75 years to life in prison had he been convicted.All but the oral copulation charge will be dismissed at sentencing.
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