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Detectives find suspect in March sexual assault
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MONROE - A Rockford man accused of sexually assaulting a woman in Monroe in March will have a preliminary hearing on Jan. 14.

Equez D. Collins, 21, appeared in Green County Circuit Court Tuesday to schedule a preliminary hearing for one count of second-degree sexual assault with the use of force, a Class C felony.

Police reports indicate that on March 1, Collins allegedly sexually assaulted a woman in the back of a car under the pretense that he was giving the woman a ride home. The victim was at a tavern and could not find a ride home so Collins, who she did not know, offered to drive her home. The victim alleged that Collins drove her around Monroe aimlessly until he pulled between Cenex and Hope Community Church where he assaulted her. Collins then dropped her off at a gas station where the victim called police. The victim did not know Collins' name but gave police a description of the suspect.

Court records show that a Green County deputy stopped Collins and a male passenger the night of the assault and told Collins they were looking for someone accused of rape, but let Collins go.

A Monroe Police Department detective surmised that the deputy might have pulled over the suspect that night, a suspicion that led him to Collins, who was living in Freeport with his girlfriend. When Collins was interviewed May 15, he denied taking the victim home, but said he was in Monroe the day of the assault and confirmed that a deputy stopped his vehicle.

DNA from Collins matched male DNA found the night of the assault. A photo array including Collins' picture was shown to the victim, who did not identify him or any other subject as the alleged assailant.

When Collins was jailed in Freeport on domestic-abuse charges, he admitted he had consensual sex with the victim the night of the alleged assault. He alleged the victim initiated contact and consented to sexual activity and that they had both been drinking.

If convicted for the maximum penalty, Collins could face up to 40 years imprisonment or $100,000 in fines or both.