ATTLEBORO — While under suspicion for the 1994 rape and murder of a Maine woman, a city man had sex with two underaged girls — including a resident of a group home for troubled teens where he was a counselor — sources have told The Sun Chronicle.

Foster D. Bates, 34, was living in Taunton at the time he had sex with a 15-year-old girl at the group home in Assonet and a 14-year-old girl he met on a street in 1996, according to sources.

In August 1997, Bates was convicted of two counts of rape of a child stemming from the incidents. He served three years in prison before being released on probation in May of last year, according to court records.

On Thursday, Bates was ordered back behind bars without bail after pleading innocent in a South Portland, Maine, courtroom to the February 1994 murder of 22-year-old Tammy Dickson.

Bates was arrested in downtown Attleboro Monday night after new DNA evidence linked him to the slaying.

Bates, who was attending college in Maine, was always a suspect in the strangulation of his neighbor, Tammy Dickson, 22, who was left to die with her toddler son nearby, police said.

However, he was never charged because a DNA sample from Bates at the time proved inconclusive, police said.

Detectives who reopened the cold case obtained a search warrant about a year and a half ago, requiring that he provide a new blood sample.

The result was a likelihood of more than 260 billion to one that Bates matched the DNA sample from the crime scene, authorities said.

Neighbors said that in the days after Dickson's body was found, Bates packed his belongings and moved away.

Bates continued to take classes at Southern Maine Technical College for the rest of the 1994 spring semester, then left school without completing the program. He then moved back to Massachusetts with his wife and son.

Kevin Bates told reporters at Attleboro District Court on Tuesday that his brother was innocent, and that he would not harm anyone.

On advice of his lawyer, Bates declined to comment about his case.

DAVID LINTON can be reached at 508-236-0338 or click here to e-mail.