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'House of horrors' suspect pleads not guilty to rape charges

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Suspect Anthony Sowell is being held on $1M bail.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Bail for Anthony Sowell set at $1 million on rape charges
  • Bail already set at $5 million on charges related to discovery of bodies at his home
  • Sowell, 50, is a registered sex offender
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(CNN) -- The suspect in the September attack on a woman that led to the discovery of 11 bodies at his Ohio home pleaded not guilty Friday to charges that he raped and choked the woman.

Bail for registered sex offender Anthony Sowell was set at $1 million on the rape charges. Bail had already been set at $5 million on five murder charges related to the grisly discovery of the bodies at his home in Cleveland.

"I don't think a $1 million bond is unfair under the circumstances," Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Judge John O'Donnell said at Friday's hearing.

Sowell was arraigned Friday in Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Court on multiple charges, -- including attempted murder, rape and kidnapping -- connected to the September 22 assault on the 36-year-old woman.

Sowell said he could not afford a lawyer, and O'Donnell appointed one.

The victim encountered Sowell while walking in his Cleveland neighborhood, and he took her back to his home, where he became violent and raped her, Cuyahoga County prosecutors said.

"While raping her, he strangled her with a cord until she lost consciousness," the prosecutors said in a written statement. "When she regained consciousness, he led her out of the house."

Police investigating that case searched Sowell's home and yard, finding the 11 bodies.

Sowell, 50, is charged with five counts of aggravated murder, rape, felonious assault and kidnapping in connection with those deaths.

He served 15 years in prison for a 1989 attempted rape. He was released in 2005.

Neighbors and police have told CNN that other women were seen at Sowell's home from time to time, and that he would offer them beer and other alcohol. Police say he also might have offered them drugs.

Neighbors on October 20 reported seeing a naked woman fall from the second floor of the home. Firefighters and police responded and later notified police. But the woman told officers she fell off the roof while she was at the home "partying," and no charges were filed.

CNN's Susan Candiotti contributed to this report.