NORFOLK, Va. (WAVY) — A Virginia Beach judge has ordered a mental health evaluation for an accused “serial rapist.”

It came after William Phelps IV didn’t speak or acknowledge the court and his defense attorney at a hearing on Friday morning. The commonwealth’s attorney says Phelps’ silence shows he’s either having a mental health issue or is choosing not to speak.

Phelps’ defense attorney did say Phelps hasn’t been showing any issues while in custody.

He’s charged in Virginia Beach with lying about previously being involuntarily committed on a consent form to buy a gun.

Phelps is accused of sexually assaulting two teens on Verdun Avenue in Norfolk in 2008 when he was 18 years old. Investigators said he was also allegedly involved in two other rapes in Norfolk, and one in Chesapeake.

Police say they were able to link Phelps to the Verdun Avenue case through DNA collected in May of 2022 after he allegedly lied on a form while trying to buy a gun in Virginia Beach. 

Phelps has been held without bail since police made the cold case arrest back in October. He had not faced criminal charges before that arrest, but 10 On Your Side found that a woman took out an emergency protective order against Phelps in November 2018.

She said that he consistently harassed her, and in one incident smacked food out of her hand, took her phone away from her and punched her in the face.

William Lionelle Phelps IV is accused of sexually assaulting two teenagers in 2008. He’s facing 10 charges connected to the alleged assault.

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