Child Allegedly Sexually Assaulted In Public Library

By Pei-Sze Cheng
|  Monday, May 10, 2010  |  Updated 11:45 PM EDT
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Child Allegedly Sexually Assaulted In Public Library

Police say a man matching this sketch sexually attacked a girl in a library in the Lower East Side.

The search is on for a man who allegedly groped a 9 year old girl inside the Seward Park Public Library on Manhattan's Lower East Side.

In an exclusive interview with nbcnewyork.com, the girl, who is not being identifed to protect her identity, says she left her mother for a moment to grab a book off a shelf. She knelt down in the aisle to read the book when a man approached her.

"He asked me what color was my underwear," she said. "Then he asked to see my underwear and I didn't let him see it."

Stunned by the stranger's question, the girl did not react. Within seconds she said the man groped her and then forced her to grope him. He stopped she said when he thought someone saw him.

"I ran to my mom. I was crying," she said, "And told her that a stranger was touching me and stuff"

This bold assault happened in the children's section of the library's second floor, which has become a sanctuary for many schoolchildren who go there to study and do homework.

The young girl's mother was on the second floor as well. When her daughter walked away, she assumed it was safe. But after what happened to her daughter, she was shocked to learn that there are no security cameras.

"I'm very upset there are no cameras," said the mother. "Because it is very hard to find this guy."

Because there is no video of the man, police have released a sketch. The suspect is described as a white man in his mid-forties, about five-nine to six feet tall with a medium build and short salt and pepper hair. At the time of the assault, he was wearing a black t-shirt, shorts, a grey colored cap and was carrying a black bag with a strap. 

A spokesperson for the New York Public library says the staff called 911 the moment the assault was reported and that there was a security guard on duty at the time. But that one guard must monitor all three floors by himself.

Library patron Christine Rodriguez was disgusted this could happen at the library she has been frequenting for 20 years. "For perverts to be here fondling, no good."

Other residents said the library should invest in better security like cameras and more guards.

A library spokesperson says not all branches have cameras and they are usually installed based on prior incidents and funding. With the entire library system facing a 37 million dollar budget cut, cameras now seem unlikely.

But with the help of the sketch and renewed vigilance, residents hope this man will be caught before he can hurt the next person, no one more anxious than the little girl who wants to be able to feel safe again at her favorite neighborhood stop.

"I don't want this happen to anyone again."

Anyone with information about this suspect is urged to call the NYPD at the Crimestoppers Hotline, 1-800-577- TIPS.

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