The 102nd Precinct has beefed up its patrols within Forest Park after a woman was attacked while jogging there on Friday evening, even as police say they’ve nabbed a suspect.
Forty-two-year-old Richard Kassebaum, who lives on 155th Avenue in Lindenwood, was arrested Tuesday and was charged with attempted predatory sexual assault, attempted rape and sex abuse.
Kassebaum served time in prison for killing his aunt in Flushing in 1990. In that case, he was convicted of manslaughter and served 19 years in state prison for stabbing 49-year-old Barbara Jacoutot to death in her apartment on Parsons Boulevard, in March 1990. He was released on parole in 2009.
The victim in Friday’s attack, a 23-year-old woman, was jogging along a bridle path in the park near the intersection of Metropolitan Avenue and Jackie Robinson Parkway around 7:25 p.m. on Friday evening, when she was attacked by a man with a stun gun. Kassebaum allegedly tasered the victim and dragged her into a remote area off the path she was jogging alone, where he allegedly sexually assaulted her and attempted to remove her clothes. The victim fought the attacker.
Police say a couple walking nearby with a dog startled the attacker and he ran off with the victim’s iPhone. The victim was taken to Queens General Hospital and was treated for injuries to her neck.
The section of the park where the attack happened is home to a number of winding bridle paths that connect the Forest Hills side of the park at Union Turnpike and 71st Avenue to Forest Park Drive and pass through heavily wooded areas. Though the trails are often very popular during the day, there are few lights and are the pitch dark at night.
Since the attack, more police have been patrolling both by car along Forest Park Drive, which cuts through the heart of the park, and on horseback along the bridle paths near where the attack took place.
The attack occurred at dusk. In spring and fall, it is common to see people jogging in the park’s trails around dusk and even after dark.
At a number of meetings of the 102nd Precinct’s Community Council in the past few years, officers have warned joggers not to run after dusk because of the danger in the park. Last August, a man forced a woman to the ground and groped her while she was walking in the park.
The park is also notorious for being a haven for drug use and sexual activity, especially along a stretch of Park Lane South between Metropolitan and Myrtle avenues, not far from where Friday’s attack took place.
Those issues date back decades and police are often staked out along Park Lane South — especially in warmer weather — in order to crack down on the problem.