NEW HAVEN, Conn. (AP) _ Two law enforcement officials say a Connecticut man suspected of rapes along the East Coast since 1997 told investigators he began committing sexual offenses six years before that.

Aaron Thomas pleaded not guilty Tuesday in New Haven Superior Court to a rape charge.

Thomas was arrested March 4 in his hometown of New Haven after authorities say DNA confirmed he was the so-called East Coast Rapist responsible for rapes and other attacks on 17 women from Virginia to Connecticut.

Two officials with direct knowledge of the case who spoke on condition of anonymity because the matter remains under investigation say the 39-year-old Thomas told police he began committing sexual offenses at age 19 in 1991.

His attorney said he has not seen details of the state’s case.

(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press.  All Rights Reserved.)


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