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Suspect in Kristin Smart killing previously suspected in 2007 rape allegation

Paul R. Flores, now 44, became the subject of an investigation in 2012 when his DNA profile matched a profile collected in the alleged January 2007 incident, according to law enforcement records. But the alleged incident was never prosecuted.
The FBI and the San Luis Obispo County Sheriff's Department continue their dig and investigation on the hillside above Cal Poly related to the disappearance of student Kristin Smart two decades ago, Sept. 8, 2016David Middlecamp / AP file

A man charged with murder in the death of Kristin Smart, a California college student who vanished walking home from a party in 1996, was investigated in the alleged rape of a woman in Southern California a decade after Smart's disappearance.

Paul R. Flores, now 44, became the subject of the investigation in 2012 when his DNA profile matched a profile collected from the woman, who was given a forensic examination at a hospital the morning after the alleged January 2007 assault, according to a report from the Los Angeles District Attorney’s Office. But the alleged incident was never prosecuted.

The woman said she blacked out at a bar in Redondo Beach and later woke up naked and disoriented in a stranger’s bed.

Image: Kristin Smart
Kristin Smart was last seen in May 1996.FBI via AP

When Redondo Beach Police Department detectives began to investigate the DNA match, they learned San Luis Obispo investigators were already chasing the same information, and had previously questioned a bartender who worked the night of the alleged incident, the district attorney’s report states.

The bartender told detectives that at least one other customer had relayed a similar story about an incident involving Flores, but police were unable to identify the other possible victim, according to the district attorney’s report.

Flores was questioned and admitted he might have had sex with the woman because, “he has had sex with many girls,” according to the report. “He said he did not have any particular recollection of her or the incident.”

Flores was charged this month with murder in Smart’s death, and police and prosecutors in San Luis Obispo said there was also evidence that he had assaulted other women. Smart, 19, was a student at California Polytechnic State University in San Luis Obispo.

Flores has pleaded not guilty to a murder charge. NBC News has reached out to Flores's lawyer for comment.

San Luis Obispo County District Attorney Dan Dow said last week that prosecutors plan to use the additional assault allegations as evidence in the case, and said that he believed Smart was killed during the commission of a rape or an attempted rape.

The 2007 Redondo Beach incident was never prosecuted. The Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office declined to pursue the case in March 2013, after concluding there was insufficient evidence to prove the allegations beyond a reasonable doubt, according to a case memo obtained by NBC News. The district attorney’s office declined to comment beyond what’s written in the report.

A spokesman for the Redondo Beach Police Department said he was unable to comment on the investigation.