Police have caught the man who allegedly inappropriately touched two girls in their Jackson Heights apartment building earlier this week.
Mario Lopez, 52, of Brooklyn, was charged on Thursday with burglary, luring a child, first-degree sexual abuse and endangering the welfare of a child.
“Such an allegation makes him a threat to children and a clear and present danger to society in general,” District Attorney Richard Brown said. “Such conduct, if proven true, cannot go unpunished.”
On Nov. 12 at 7 p.m. Lopez entered the massive apartment building at 70-35 Broadway on the 37th Street side behind a woman who had the front door key, according to the super, Johnny Garcia.
He then waited by the elevator until he saw the two girls, ages 4 and 9, and allegedly lured them into the laundry room saying he needed help, according to Brown.
Once inside the room he allegedly sexually abused the two unrelated girls. Afterwards Lopez allegedly offered the nine-year-old candy and then left, Brown said.
The case came to light when the girls told their parents. Lopez faces 15 years in prison if convicted.
On Thursday morning, before the arrest, Councilman Danny Dromm (D-Jackson Heights) passed out fliers to residents of the building. The sheets of paper said “Wanted” in bold writing with four pictures of the suspect, which were captured by the complex’s extensive camera system.
“Children are our most precious gift and they should not have to suffer at the hands of a pervert,” Dromm said.
Dromm, who lived in the apartment building between 1981 and 1988, said there were many alleged incidents including a woman being raped in the basement laundry room.These reports were one of the reasons he moved from the complex, owned by Demty Associates and Hillcrest Owners Association, 24 years ago. Neither property owner has a listed phone number nor does Dromm’s office have a contact.
Last Monday’s incident is the first time an assault has happened in the laundry room since the move decades ago, Garcia said.
Despite the recent attacks and Dromm’s accounts, one resident says he still feels safe in his home.
“I feel safe here,” resident Md Sanaullah said, prefacing his statement by saying he spends most of his day from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. at work and not in the building.
Anyone else who might have been a victim is asked to call Crime Stoppers at 1 (800) 577-TIPS (8477). The public can also submit tips at nypdcrimestoppers.com, or by texting 274637 (CRIMES), then entering TIP577. All tips are strictly confidential.