updated 12/23/2006 5:28:31 PM ET 2006-12-23T22:28:31

The man suspected of being a serial killer had been accused of rape on two occasions before the killing of his alleged first victim, but he never stood trial, newspapers reported Saturday.

Ronald Dominique was indicted on nine counts of first-degree murder earlier this month. Held in lieu of a $9 million bond, he has yet to enter a plea.

In 1993, a Houma man told Thibodaux police that Dominique tied him up and raped him at gunpoint, but an officer chose not to make an arrest, the Daily Comet and the Courier newspapers reported. In 1996, a Thibodaux man went to the same police officer with an almost identical account, but while Dominique was arrested and jailed, he was released three months later without prosecution.

Over the decade since then, the bodies of 23 men have been found in the vicinity of New Orleans and Thibodaux. Authorities alleged earlier this month that Dominique, 42, admitted raping them, then killing them and dumping their bodies.

After the second rape complaint, police questioned Dominique about the similarities between the two men’s stories.

According to a transcript of the interview, Dominique acknowledged picking up both men and bringing them home for sex, but said he had tied them up because they had asked him to. He said that afterward the men demanded money, so he brandished a gun and told them to leave.

“I would never hurt nobody,” Dominique told police at the time.

Police charged him with aggravated rape and he was jailed in August 1996, with the charge later downgraded to forcible rape. The charges eventually were dropped and he was released that November.

Eight months later, on July 14, 1997, the body of the first of Dominique’s alleged murder victims was found in a canal. Over the next decade, the bodies of 22 other men, all asphyxiated, some partially clothed, were found scattered throughout six south Louisiana parishes.

Thibodaux police say they did their job. Prosecutors say they could not pursue the second case after Dominique’s arrest because the alleged victim disappeared, although the newspapers reported that the man maintains authorities never made an attempt to contact him.

The investigating officer who handled both cases died in 2003.

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