Accused Vic rapist 'nearly drowned woman'

Georgie Moore
Joel Russo faces a string of charges including rape and attempted rape over an attack on a jogger

An intellectually disabled man allegedly raped, choked and nearly drowned a woman as she jogged in a Melbourne park.

Joel Russo, 25, faces a string of charges including 10 of rape, one of attempted rape and three of sexual assault over the attack along Merri Creek at Coburg on Tuesday evening.

He is also accused of holding his alleged victim's head under water and choking her, court documents show.

The accused rapist asked not to be brought into the Melbourne Magistrates Court for a filing hearing on Thursday, when his lawyer revealed the 25-year-old had bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, an acquired brain injury and intellectual disability.

He was arrested hours after the incident and charged with 17 offences, including reckless conduct endangering life and reckless conduct endangering serious injury.

Russo is also charged with an unrelated robbery at Carlton early on Wednesday.

He has been prescribed anti-depressants and also takes medication for chronic back pain, the court was told.

Police have called for witnesses to the Merri Creek assault, including anyone who saw a man around the parklands between 6pm and 9pm on Tuesday.

Detectives also want to hear from anyone who saw the man walk with the alleged victim into a Brunswick East McDonalds, on the corner of Albion and Holmes streets, about 10pm.

Russo's lawyer did not apply for bail and the accused rapist was remanded to reappear for a committal mention via video link on March 12.