A sexual assault victim may get justice nearly 25 years later after a livery driver was indicted May 27 for allegedly raping her after a DNA swab in the fall of 2020 generated a match to the woman’s rape kit.
The sexual assault took place Sept. 15, 1996, four years before New York State launched its criminal DNA databank system, which enabled the city to test every rape kit in its possession, according to a press release from the Queens District Attorney’s Office.
The state DNA databank generated a match to the rape kit, to which the NYPD and the Queens DA’s office were alerted.
“The break in this 25-year-old cold case, the oldest sexual assault case ever prosecuted in Queens County, came from a DNA match that had been previously unattainable,” said District Attorney Melinda Katz in a statement.
In the late summer of 1996, the victim, 23, flagged down a livery cab at 4 a.m. on Parsons Boulevard and Archer Avenue after working back-to-back shifts at two restaurants. As the vehicle approached her residence the driver, Danny Stewart, 58, from 91st Street on the Upper West Side in Manhattan, allegedly drove past her home to a dark parking lot nearby as she attempted to exit the car, according to the release. Stewart allegedly refused to let the victim out of the car, but instead brandished a firearm, choked and then raped the young woman.
“The victim in this case was just attempting to go home after work, but unfortunately met up with this alleged predator, who at long last faces prosecution for this crime,” said Katz.
After the assault the defendant allowed the woman to exit the vehicle and she walked home, then later went to a hospital, according to the DA’s Office.
Stewart was arraigned before Queens Supreme Court Justice Ushir Pandit-Durant after being indicted on one count of rape in the first-degree by a grand jury. He faces 12 and a half to 25 years in prison if convicted.
“Justice is not always immediate, but a victim’s suffering deserves closure,” said Katz.
Stewart must return to court June 15.