Kim Avis (57) raped and molested victims during a decade-long campaign of sex crimes in the Highlands.
But as his trial for the string of offences loomed he was reported missing in America after going for a swim at Monastery Beach at Carmel, California.
Avis had claimed that after "a near death experience" he came to the view that he would not receive a fair trial.
A judge told him at the High Court in Edinburgh: "You then effectively went on the run before US marshalls, unpersuaded that you were dead, tracked you down in Colorado."
Lord Sandison said: "You were for many years a very well-known street trader in Inverness, busking and selling jewellery from your market stall."
The judge said that as he understood it Avis had even received "some sort of good citizen award".
But Lord Sandison said there was another side to him and the author of a background report prepared on the sex offender had described him as "a controlling and dominant personality".
He said Avis manipulated, managed and coerced victims as he perpetrated a catalogue of sex offending which included horrific rapes.
Avis, formerly of Wolves Den, Farr, Inverness, had denied a string of charges at an earlier trial but was convicted of attacks on two adult women and two girls committed between 2006 and 2016. He was found guilty of a total of 13 offences of rape, attempted rape, sexual assault and indecency.
He was also found guilty of failing to appear at the High Court in Edinburgh on March 11 2019 for proceedings in the case. He was detained in the US in July that year.
Lord Sandison jailed Avis for 12 years for the sex crimes he committed and imprisoned him for a further three years for failing to appear in court.
The judge said of the latter decision: "I regard this as a very serious example of the offence."
Avis said of the allegations against him at his earlier trial: "It is like reading a film script. It is untrue. It is disgusting."
Defence counsel Lorenzo Alonzi said Avis had no criminal record for similar offending but knew he faced a lengthy sentence.
Mr Alonzi said: "His position in relation to the offences, as seen from the report, is unchanged."
The defence counsel said that Avis has "lost everything" including his reputation.
Avis was placed on the sex offenders' register indefinitely.