The Haifa District Court sentenced a serial rapist to 22 years in jail on Sunday, after he was convicted of raping and sexually assaulting four women in the city's Hadar neighborhood.

Viktor Vasiliev, 39, of Haifa pleaded guilty to rape, indecent assault, sodomy, trespassing and menacing behavior. In exchange for his confession, Vasiliev was offered a plea bargain of 24 years imprisonment of which he is to serve 22, with three years probation. In addition, the Haifa resident will award two of his victims, A. and L., 30,000 NIS, and M. will receive 50,000 NIS. He must make the payments within 90 days.

Vasiliev was convicted of raping the four women since 2007, some of whom he attacked more than once. There was an initial gag order on the case, which was removed ten days after Vasiliev's arrest in 2009.

Police said Vasiliev, an electrician and father of one, would follow women who live alone in ground-floor apartments on Bar Giora Street in Haifa, stalk them by the entrance to the apartment, and then attack.

It took police over a year to identify a recurring pattern in several rape cases that had occurred on the street. A sample of Vasiliev's DNA had not been in the police database, as he did not have a criminal record.

Police were able to identify the rapist after forensic investigators managed to match two DNA samples from different crime scenes. They then arrested Vasiliev when he returned for the third time to the apartment of a woman he had already raped twice.

According to police, officers had instructed the woman how to act in case the attacker returned. When he approached her, she called police, which had stationed volunteers and regular policemen in the area for several weeks. The suspect attempted to escape, but was soon caught by a volunteer and a policeman.

Vasiliev began his raping spree in October 2007. On this occasion, Vasiliev entered one of the victim's flats through the front door (which had been open), woke her up with kisses, and then raped her while threatening her with a knife. A DNA sample was collected from the crime scene, but police were unable to identify a suspect from it.

A year later, Vasiliev entered another unlocked ground-floor apartment on Bar Giora St., but the woman screamed and he ran away.

In March 2009, he sexually assaulted another woman on the same street. Two days following that, Vasiliev returned to the same flat and raped the woman residing there. In May 2009, police said, Vasiliev assaulted another woman on the same street, who was on the way out of her apartment.

The victim, whose name could not be disclosed, said the attack took place at 6 A.M. "I was just leaving my flat, when he pushed me back inside. At first I thought he was some neighbor, but then I noticed his pants were down," the woman said. "He told me to 'shut up, get into the room, and if you don't want me to beat you up, do what I say.' He tried to undress me, but only managed to remove my shirt. He started kissing me and tried to have sex with me, but I refused."

The suspect eventually sodomized the woman after some threats, recording the act with a video camera the entire time, police said. He then escaped from the apartment, stealing some money. Vasiliev studied the woman's routine prior to the attack.

Police initially did not realize that they were dealing with a serial rapist until forensic investigators found matching DNA and fingerprints at multiple rape scenes.