Area politicians and residents are concerned about the safety of women and girls in southeastern Queens after a string of sex assaults this month.
In at least five cases, a pervert has been targeting teens while they are waiting for a morning bus near a busy school corridor, according to published reports. On Sept. 27 at around 7 a.m., a man inappropriately touched a female high school student at the intersection of Jamaica and Parsons boulevards.
Later that day at around noon, a teen near Chapman Boulevard and Archer Avenue and one near Harbor Hall Street were both approached by what appears to be the same man based on their descriptions, who grabbed them from behind, pulled down their pants and touched their private area.
The following week a man described as having a fat lower lip grabbed a girl’s breast as she waited for the Q88 bus near Main Street, the reports said. And on Oct. 5 a man flashed a female high school student as she waited for the same bus near Kissena and Horace Harding boulevards. He was arrested, the report said.
A 40-year-old black woman was the victim of an attempted rape behind a building at 227-13 145th Road in Jamaica on Oct. 9 at around 1:15 a.m., according to the police. When the officers arrived, the victim told them that she had just gotten off the bus and was walking home when she felt like someone was following her.
When she arrived at her house, a slim black man in his 30s wearing all black clothing grabbed her from behind at knifepoint, threw her to the ground, and began beating her, the NYPD said. The man pulled the woman’s pants down and attempted to rape her.
He put his finger inside her private area and told her, “You like that, you know you want it.” The victim screamed and her landlord heard her cries for help and came to her aid — that’s when the perpetrator fled the scene running west on 145th Road in an unknown direction. The NYPD canvassed the area, but did not find the man.
On Oct. 12 at around 11:30 p.m. the police received a call from a woman who said a man had tried to sexually assault her at 226 Street and South Conduit in Laurelton. She stated that while walking from a bus stop a black man in his 20s wearing a brown jacket, jeans and black sneakers grabbed her from behind, threw her to the ground and pulled her pants down.
He touched her privates, but did not rape her. The man fled the location southbound on 226th Street. The victim was taken to Jamaica Hospital where she was treated and released.
“To the perpetrators of these disgusting, cowardly attacks I have only these words: ‘Turn yourself in now,’” City Councilman James Sanders Jr. (D-Laurelton) said in a prepared statement, adding, “Our community will simply neither tolerate nor abide these animals on our streets, and we will come together as one to make sure that every woman in our district is safe.”
Officers at the 105th Precinct do not believe the two attempted rape incidents within their geographic confines form a pattern since the victims gave different descriptions of their attackers.
But not everyone agrees.
“I don’t care what they say, it’s definitely a pattern,” Donovan Richards, Sanders’ chief of staff indicated on Tuesday.
Rapes in the 105th Precinct have increased by 31.2 percent for the year to date through Oct. 9, according to the latest CompStat report, going from 16 in 2010 to 21 in 2011. Felony crimes for the precinct have also increased for the same time period going from 1,436 in 2010 to 1,497 in 2011 — a jump of 4.25 percent.
In another case, a 20-year-old black woman was walking near 108th Drive and Merrick Boulevard in Jamaica at around 2 a.m. on Oct. 13 when she was approached by a man armed with a box cutter, who took her to a secluded area and raped her.
The suspect is described as a black man between the ages of 20 and 23, 5 feet 5 inches tall and weighing about 180 pounds. He has a Caesar-style haircut and was wearing a black bandanna, a black waist-length leather jacket and dark jeans.
“This is not typical,” said Bill Perkins, president of the Rosedale Civic Association. “I don’t ever recall having a situation like this before. This is terrible. We are going to work with the precinct in order to get information out to the community and see what steps can be taken.”
Rapes the 103rd Precinct have increased by 35.3 percent for the year to date through Oct. 9, according to the latest CompStat report, going from 17 in 2010 to 23 in 2011. But overall felony crimes for the precinct have increased less than one percent for the same time period going from 1,267 in 2010 to 1,268 in 2011.
Incidents of rape citywide are also on the rise for the year through Oct. 9, according to the latest statistics, going from 1,031 in 2010 to 1,129 in 2011 — an increase of 9.5 percent. However, felony crimes overall have only jumped one tenth of a percent since last year, with 80,552 crimes in 2010 compared to 80,631 in 2011.
“I don’t think it’s so much an increase as it is more women are coming forward,” said Shawn Williams, a crime victims advocate from LeFrak City and mom of three daughters. “It’s terrible that women are being the victims of sexual attacks and sexual assault. We need to safeguard ourselves and each other.”
Between November 2007 and January 2008, there was a string of five rapes in southeast Queens in which the suspect threatened his victims with a knife before sexually assaulting them. The following month, in February 2008, there was another case in which a man, claiming to be a police officer, raped a 16-year-old at knifepoint.
Three more rapes occurred between July 8 and July 10, 2008 and the crimes so worried the community that area lawmakers began to hold meetings to let constituents know how to protect themselves and even proposed that the police create a special task force dedicated to preventing sex crimes city-wide.
There are several ways women can protect themselves from becoming victims of sexual assault, according to the Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network. For example, be aware of your surroundings and avoid isolated areas. Always appear confident that you know where you’re going and never give the impression that you are lost.
If a situation or location feels unsafe or uncomfortable, it probably is. Try not to weigh yourself down with backpacks and packages because it can make you appear vulnerable. Avoid being alone in an isolated area with a stranger and don’t put music headphones in both ears, especially when walking alone because it can easily be a distraction.
Sanders was to have held a public meeting regarding the sex assaults on Oct. 19 at the Springfield Assembly Church of Apostolic Faith in Rosedale.
Anyone with information about the assaults is asked to call Crime Stoppers at 1 (800) 577-TIPS (8477).The public can also submit tips online by logging onto nypdcrimestoppers.com, or by texting 274637 (CRIMES), then entering TIP577. All tips are strictly confidential.