bronx nursing home rape Credit: Metro Photo Archive

A DNA test conductedjust before the statue of limitations would have run out on a unsolved sexual assault from 1996 has shed new light on the crime,the Queens District Attorney said on Monday.

Richard Thomas, 47, formerly of Far Rockaway, was charged on Friday with the rape of a woman who was assaulted in her home more than 17 years ago.

 

Queens District Attorney Richard A. Brown said the office's DNA Prosecutions Unit had been systematically going through every cold case in the county dating back to 1996.

"In this case, the Queens District Attorney Cold Case team located evidence from the crime scene that had not been submitted previously for DNA testing," Brown said in a statement. "That evidence was found to contain semen from which a DNA profile was developed. The DNA databanks then matched that profile to the defendant.”

Thomas was charged withfirst-degreerapeand first-degree sodomy andfaces up to 25 years in prison if convicted.

The defendant's lawyer couldn't be immediately reached for comment.

Follow Emily Johnson on Twitter @emilyjreports

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