Saturday, December 1, 2012

Sex Crimes In Parks On The Rise


By Geoffrey Croft

On Wednesday morning a forty-year-old woman was out for a jog with her dog in Forest Park in Queens when a man approached her and exposed himself. 

Unfortunately this was not an isolated incident.  A number of sex crimes have been reported in city parks recently in what could be described as an alarming trend.

Since August 15th alone there have been at least nine reported incidents in city parks. The crimes include rape, attempted rape, forceable touching, and indecent exposure according to an analiyzes by NYC Park Advocates.

For years the public has called on the Mayor and City Council to dramatically increase dedicated enforcement in parkland.  Park advocates and elected officials have also demanded that the city provide accurate data on crime in parks. Currently the City tracks crime in 31 parks.

In September - on the heels of a number of high-profile sex assaults in parks - Speaker Christine Quinn and other electeds called on Mayor Bloomberg to spare the parks Department's Park Enforcement budget from further cuts.  However few elected officials have stepped up to commit to restoring the millions in funds that have been cut from PEP's budget.

Critics charge the enforcement division has been slowly dismantled under Mayor Bloomberg and recently fired park commissioner Adrain Benepe, this while crime has increased.  

From 2008 to 2011 PEP lost 42% of its officers.   Crime has risen 24% according to data complied by the NYPD of the few parks they do track.

Recent Sexual Assaults

• On November 9th, a 24-year-old jogger was groped In Central Park by a teen. A group of four or five kids surrounded her and demanded a kiss. When she refused one of the teens forcibly touched her.

• On October 5th, a 31-year-old female was raped in Tompkins Square Park, the fifth reported rape to occur on Manhattan park land in recent weeks. The woman said she had fallen a sleep in the park and was awakened by a man on top of her in the process of raping her according to police.

• On September 22, just after 5 a.m., a 21-year-old was repeatedly raped and strangled in Hudson River Park. Police arrested a suspect.   

• On September 12, a 73-year-old woman was raped and beaten in Strawberry Fields in Central Park.  Police arrested a suspect.

• On September 10, a 56-year-old woman was raped, beat up and thrown from the second story  of Pier 15 on the East River Waterfront near the South Street Seaport. Police arrested a suspect.

• On September 3, at 2:15 a.m., a 19-year-old woman was allegedly raped behind a playground in Riverside Park.

On August 21, a man attempted to rape 17-year-old girl in Peck Park in Queens. The suspect knocked the victim to the ground before the teen was able to kick the suspect in the chest and get away according to police.

On August 15th,  a woman was attacked Forest Park also in Queens. Police reported that the victim was pushed to the ground and forcibly touched.

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