He's back: Greenleaf attacker strikes again

He'll be back. That was the prediction of Charlottesville police two years ago when Robert Terrell Haskins received what they believed was a slap on the wrist– six months in jail– for what they charged was an attempted rape of a young mother in Greenleaf Park.

He is back. Haskins, 23, was arrested December 1 and charged with assault and battery, breaking and entering, and grand larceny in a case reminiscent of his past assaults on women.

His latest alleged victim is a 30-year-old woman who'd recently moved to Little High Street and who said Haskins had followed her a few times, says Captain Chip Harding.

On November 26, according to police, Haskins asked the woman if he could use her bathroom. He started "acting strange and making comments," says Harding, and she asked him to leave.

"He grabbed her by the belt, pulled her forward and kissed her," he adds. "He put his hand over her mouth and said, 'Don't scream.'"

Haskins left the woman's house– and several minutes later, allegedly tried to come in the basement sliding doors. "She screamed, 'You need to leave,'" says Harding.

The woman did not report the incident until a few days later, when she noticed several items missing from her house, including a purse and laptop.

"She starts describing this bizarre behavior, and she knows his name is Robert," says Harding. The investigating officer was aware of Haskins' criminal history and that "Haskins hangs in this part of town."

Police were stunned in 2003 when a judge released Haskins after he knocked down a woman who was in Greenleaf Park with her 16-month-old baby on December 30, 2002. The brazen daylight attack sent chills through a community facing a serial rapist on the loose.

Haskins was arrested in March 2003 when the Greenleaf Park victim saw him walk by as she was having lunch at Christian's Pizza on the Downtown Mall. He was charged with attempted rape, a felony that carries up to 10 years in jail. Substitute Judge Joseph Spinella found him guilty of misdemeanor sexual battery and released him with credit for the six months he had spent in jail.

Although DNA proved Haskins was not the serial rapist, he gave police a statement introduced in court saying that he "intended to rape this woman but didn't, only because she fought him off so strongly," an incredulous Captain Harding told The Hook after the six-month verdict. Harding is not surprised that Haskins was arrested again.

"I just hope we have a successful prosecution and don't have a substitute judge like we did in the Greenleaf case," he says. "It's a shame the judge doesn't live in this community and doesn't have to answer questions from citizens on this. I will make an attempt to forward published articles on Mr. Haskins to him to keep him abreast of how his ruling affected the community."

Spinella, 80, is retired and lives in Richmond. He does not remember the Haskins case, nor does he typically comment on specific cases. "I decide the case on the evidence that comes before me," he says. "Apparently there was something with the evidence presented."

Following the Greenleaf attack, Haskins was arrested in two cases involving joggers on Locust Avenue, and police believe he's the same man who followed a woman on Jefferson Street and made sexually suggestive remarks.

Haskins was barely out of jail for the Greenleaf case when he was arrested again October 9, 2003, for chasing a female jogger on Locust. He was charged with obstruction of justice, found guilty, and given a 30-day suspended sentence.

And he picked up another two months in jail when he was convicted of misdemeanor sexual battery for grabbing the buttocks of a juvenile jogger on Locust Avenue on February 18, 2003.

In court records from the Greenleaf trial, Haskins told an investigator he'd attended Grafton in Winchester, a school that prepares students with autism, mental retardation, and behavioral, learning, and emotional disorders to live independently. He also said that he had seizures, and when he failed to take his medication– as he did the day of the Greenleaf attack– "I do wild stuff."

Two years ago, Harding said Haskins' behavior "paints a picture of a compulsion he's unable to control, but he knows it's wrong." The officer declared Haskins "an obvious threat to the women in this community."

The Little High resident identified Haskins from a police lineup. Haskins admitted he had entered her house several times, says Harding, and he is being held without bond at Charlottesville-Albemarle Regional Jail. A preliminary hearing is scheduled for December 22. If convicted of all charges, Haskins is looking at over 40 years in jail.

"I'm shocked that he's repeated his behavior and that he's out in the community," says the mother of one of his victims, who spoke on the condition of anonymity. "He can't keep doing this. He really needs to get help."

Robert Terrell Haskins in front of the camera for his December 1 arrest. He was also arrested for assaulting women in March and October 2003.