UPDATED Wednesday, March 19, 2014 --- 11:34 a.m.

Madison Police say DNA has linked a suspect in a sexual assault case in Madison to at least three violent and unsolved sexual assaults in Philadelphia.

Robert Palen is accused in a sexual assault in the City of Madison in December of 2013. You can read details on that case below.

Police say that DNA found at the Madison crime scene was entered into a national database. A Philadelphia, Pennsylvania detective contacted the Madison detective on March 11th, saying there was a DNA match with a stranger assault. That crime took place in Philadelphia in August of 2011.

The detective also said Palen has been linked to two other sexual assaults in Philadelphia.

Officers say Palen moved from Philadelphia to the Madison area in 2013.

Palen is in the Dane Co. jail, and faces charges in the Madison case that include strangulation and suffocation, 2nd degree sexual assault/use of force, battery and disorderly conduct.


UPDATED: Friday, January 3, 2013 --- 6:15 p.m.

A Madison woman is recovering after she says she was strangled by a guy she met online. The 40-year-old woman told police she invited the man to her apartment.

38-year-old Robert Palen was arrested for allegedly beating and strangling the woman, police say she was able to escape her Madison apartment and call for help.

Now, police are warning others of the dangers of meeting someone online.

Joel DeSpain with Madison Police says it's a terrible situation, but one that could have been avoided.

"You should really meet people first in a public place and stay in the public place."

He says online interactions can be dangerous no matter how well you think you know the person. Kelly Anderson with the Rape Crisis Center says predators are good at fooling people. DeSpain adds that it's not even just dating online, you can get hurt trying to sell or buy on sites like Craigslist.

"Take as many precautions as you can, don't have someone you don't know come into your home or apartment."

He says before meeting anyone in person there are some things you need to remember. First, make sure to tell someone where you're going to be, even if it's just to pick up a quick Craigslist sale, always drive yourself so you can leave if things take a turn for the worst, stay sober, and do some research online about the person before agreeing to meet them.

"There are a lot of great relationships out there that started online and there are a lot of people who are very happy with what they've purchased or sold on Craigslist."

But he says going in to the situation skeptical and letting the person prove you wrong is the safest bet.