FAIRFIELD — A convicted rapist just released from prison is accused of sexually assaulting and robbing a woman at knifepoint as she walked home from the downtown Fairfield train station Saturday.

Michael Fontaine, 48, of New Haven, attacked a woman from behind when she was walking on Reef Road from the train station around 10 p.m. Dec. 17, according to police. Witnesses in the neighborhood heard screams and helped direct officers.

Officers set up a perimeter and called in two K-9s, from Westport and State Police. Officers tracked shoe prints in the snow and a blood trail from Fontaine, who had struggled with the woman he allegedly attacked, police said.

The blood trail led police to find Fontaine hiding in bushes at a local church on Old Post Road, with items he had allegedly stolen from the woman in his possession. He was arrested within an hour after the assault without further incident, according to police.

“This is a horrible crime,” Chief Gary MacNamara said. “Our officers were able to locate him through perseverance and determination.”

MacNamara said he was thankful for the aid of neighbors in the area and for the patrol officers that tracked down Fontaine within the hour. The woman and a witness called police at 10:19 p.m. after Fontaine had fled, and officers arrested him at 11:14 p.m.

Police said the victim was taken to the hospital for treatment after the attack.

The department’s thoughts are focused on the victim of the crime, her family and the community at large, he said, and detectives are continuing to gather additional background information on Fontaine.

Fontaine had been released from a Connecticut prison 11 days before the attack, police said. Fontaine has past convictions for rape, sexual assault, robbery, carjacking, burglary and selling narcotics, across three states including Connecticut, according to the department.

MacNamara said Fontaine had been arrested in Fairfield on larceny charges in the early 1980s.

Furthermore, in the late 1980s, Fontaine was arrested in southwestern Connecticut for burglaries and narcotics violations, said Lt. Robert Kalamaras. Sentenced in 1990, Fontaine was released to a halfway house in 1991. Later that year he left the halfway house, considered an escape under state law, Kalamaras said.

Fontaine next served a prison sentence in Massachusetts for carjacking and rape at knifepoint and additional rape charges during his time in prison, according to police. Kalamaras said after Fontaine’s release, the convicted felon was arrested for driving under the influence in Pennsylvania four years ago.

Fontaine was transferred to Connecticut in 2014 after serving his Pennsylvania sentence to serve time on charges relating to his 1991 escape, Kalamaras said. Fontaine spent about two years in Osborn Correctional Institution in northern Connecticut.

Fontaine is a Bridgeport native and has a current address on Grand Avenue in New Haven. He is registered as a sex offender in Connecticut at different New Haven address, on Ella T. Grasso Boulevard.

Fairfield police charged him with first-degree aggravated sexual assault, first-degree robbery, second-degree larceny and third-degree assault for the alleged Saturday attack.

Aggravated sexual assault, first-degree, has a mandatory minimum sentence of five years and five years of special parole in Connecticut. A class B felony, the charge can result in up to a 20-year sentence. The charge can involve use or threat with a deadly weapon. Fontaine allegedly had a knife during the attack.

The robbery and larceny charges are also felonies, while third-degree assault is a class A misdemeanor.

Fontaine’s bond was set at $500,000 and his arraignment was Monday morning in Bridgeport Superior Court, following the weekend arrest.

Detectives are also continuing to investigate whether there had been any unreported incidents in the greater Fairfield area involving Fontaine. Police are asking anyone with related information to contact the Fairfield Police Department.

Those wishing to remain anonymous can provide information by texting CRIMES (274637) with the keyword “FPD.”

Lweiss@hearstmediact.com; @LauraEWeiss16