CENTRE COUNTY, Pa. (WTAJ)– A lawsuit has been filed against the man who Centre County officials said was the suspect in a cold case of a 2000 rape of a Penn State student on a golf course.
Kurt Rillema, 51, of Michigan, is accused of false imprisonment, sexual assault and battery, and intentional infliction of emotional distress, the lawsuit filed by the 42 year old Montgomery County woman Thursday reads.
The woman, who was not identified in the paperwork, is seeking compensatory and punitive damages due to suffering from physical manifestations such as insomnia, depression and even panic attacks, according to the 10-page lawsuit.
Charges were brought against Rillema for two different rapes, including the State College one, after DNA found on a coffee cup linked him to the rapes, according to county prosecutors.
DNA Phenotyping, a breakthrough way of being able to investigate genetic genealogy, was used during Penn State police and Oakland County Sheriff’s Office investigation to link Rillemma.
The lawsuit describes how Rillemma forced the student, who was out going for a run, into the woods by the 18th hole at knifepoint before he sexually assaulted her. The student reported to police that she was raped that night and had no idea who the assailant was.
Rillema is also accused of raping another woman at a Michigan golf course in 1999 in a similar way. The Oakland County Sheriff’s Office was investigating but had zero suspects.
It took years to develop a suspect. In 2004, Penn State police received notification from a lab that they submitted DNA samples to and learned that it matched the same one from the Mich. rape, so the suspect had to be the same man, according to prosecutors.
In 2022, police submitted DNA evidence to a third-party lab that solves cold cases through DNA Phenotyping. A year later, police received the report that narrowed it down to three men.
Rillema was the one whom police decided to investigate by following him in January to try and get his DNA sample, which they ended up getting from a Styrofoam coffee cup that he threw away after drinking out of. The DNA matched the same that was collected as part of the rape investigation, court documents show.
Described by prosecutors as an avid golfer, Rillema was a managing member of a national contractor before his arrest.
Currently, Rillema is behind bars at the Oakland County Jail with his bail denied but will eventually be brought back to Pennsylvania to be prosecuted.