Acting on DNA (search) evidence, authorities arrested a man for a 1973 rape and said he also is responsible for sexually assaulting at least 25 women in three states.

District Attorney Robert Morgenthau (search) said Tuesday that Clarence Williams (search), 58, was connected this month to the 1973 rape of a Manhattan woman and to attacks in Maryland and New Jersey after the federal DNA database matched a sample from him to genetic evidence left in many of those attacks.

Williams, who Morgenthau's office also identified as Anderson Morrell and Anderson Worrell, had been charged with rape, sexual abuse, robbery, criminal possession of a weapon and several lesser crimes in the Manhattan rape. His 1974 trial ended with a hung jury. A conviction for a separate rape in Queens was reversed in 1976, Morgenthau said.

Williams was released on bail pending retrial on the two cases, but fled in 1978 and arrest warrants were issued. He was caught last year in Georgia after he tried to buy a shotgun and the warrants came up during a background check, Morgenthau said.

This month, cold case prosecutors submitted the Manhattan rape victim's underwear for testing and the results were successfully matched against a federal DNA database.

Williams could face about 16 to 50 years in prison if convicted in the Manhattan rape. He has been extradited to New York.

Williams' lawyer, Michael Rubin, said his client "has maintained his innocence throughout" and the latest allegations "are new to us." He said Williams, who is being held without bail, is due in court on May 17.

Morgenthau would not comment on possible charges against Williams in the other attacks in New York, Maryland and New Jersey. He said the case shows the importance of the federal database.

"It will send a chill through defendants to know that you can still test for DNA after 32 years."