Philadelphia police announced yesterday that they will arrest a man they believe to be the so-called foot-fetish rapist - who is now jailed in a state prison - in connection with a string of sexual attacks on women at gunpoint in or near Center City over the last two years.

Richard Allen Casey, 47, incarcerated since January at Albion Prison in Erie County, will be charged in seven attacks on women between November 2006 and January 2007, said Capt. John Darby of the Special Victims Unit.

The attacks occurred at night and in the early morning, Darby said, adding that the attacker would rob the women at gunpoint before sexually assaulting them "in a very vicious way."

In each of the seven cases, Casey, of the 6100 block of Irving Street in West Philadelphia, fondled the women, kissed or licked their feet, or made them remove their shoes, police said.

Arrangements are being made to return him to Philadelphia for formal arrest and charging, police said.

A DNA sample linked Casey to the crimes, Darby said, noting that more than 100 DNA swabs were taken from suspects. A task force was established to investigate the cases over the years, Darby said.

At a news conference, Darby was joined by about six officers who investigated the cases.

"We could fill this room with all the officers who worked on this case," he said.

He said that although police received numerous tips from the public, a tip from a parole officer in November 2006 identified Casey as a suspect. Casey was at large at the time, Darby said.

Casey is to be charged with an array of crimes, including rape, attempted rape, indecent assault, unlawful restraint, robbery, aggravated assault, and involuntary deviate sexual intercourse, Darby said.

Casey has had nine previous arrests on charges including robbery and attempted rape, police said. He is imprisoned on a parole violation.