CLEVELAND (WJW) – A man has been sentenced to nine years in prison for the sexual assault of a 33-year-old woman in 1999.

Bart Mercurio, 52, was arrested as a result of the efforts of the Cuyahoga County Prosecutor Office’s Genetic Operations Linking DNA Unit, according to a press release from the Cuyahoga County prosecutor’s office.

“Today’s sentencing shows just how important the work of our G.O.L.D. Unit is,” Cuyahoga County Prosecutor Michael O’Malley said in the release. “Through their work and the work of our agency partners, after 23 years, we were able to bring this offender to justice and hopefully provide the victim with some long overdue closure.”

On May 6, 1999, a 33-year-old woman left her house to go for a walk in Cleveland’s Tremont neighborhood. When she returned home, Mercurio surprised her inside, grabbed her and hit her multiple times to the point where she lost consciousness, the release said.

Mercurio sexually assaulted the woman and fled the scene. The victim called the police and was taken to the hospital where a sexual assault kit was collected, according to the release.

In 2013, the CCPO assembled the Sexual Assault Kit Task Force to address leads from the testing of previously unsubmitted rape kits primarily between 1993 to 2011. The victim’s 1999 rape kit was tested by the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation, the release said.

Mercurio’s DNA did not initially produce any matches in the FBI’s national DNA database. Mercurio’s DNA profile was then indicted as “John Doe #133” to ensure that the statute of limitations did not run out.

The DNA profile for “John Doe #133” was submitted to Gene by Gene and DNA analysts and investigative genetic genealogists were able to connect “John Doe #133’s” DNA profile to Mercurio.

Investigators then found Mercurio’s DNA and sent it to BCI to be tested. The tests confirmed that the DNA in the victim’s rape kit matched. Mercurio’s DNA. That is when an arrest warrant was then officially issued for Mercurio, the release said.

According to the release, on July 9, 2021, CCPO investigators, the Elyria Police Department, and the U.S. Marshals arrested Mercurio at his home in Elyria.

Mercurio pleaded guilty to one count of rape, one count of abduction and one count of burglary on January 12.

Mercurio was sentenced to nine years in prison and will have to register as a sexually oriented offender.