A New York City travel agent says she was flattered when a debonair journalist approached her in Central Park. But she says the flirtation took a violent turn when he forced her to perform a sex act in her apartment building stairwell.
The woman testified Tuesday in Manhattan state Supreme Court in the trial of Ivory Coast native Hugues Akassy.
Akassy is accused of committing crimes including assault against five women. Prosecutors say he wooed them by portraying himself as a French-language TV journalist. He has pleaded not guilty.
The travel agent said Akassy approached her in May 2007 and took her to a bar. She said she refused his advances but continued to see him.
She said she was attacked that November.
Last year, the New York Post's dating columnist aired her own unsettling account of going on a date with Akassy after he approached her in an Apple store in 2007. A stroll in Central Park rapidly disintegrated into unwanted sexual advances, followed by vicious text messages, she said.
"I shudder at how aggressive he was — and I regret not listening to my internal warning bell," columnist Mandy Stadtmiller wrote.
On July 25, 2010, a woman found him on her fire escape. He told her that he was homeless and sleeping on the roof of her Upper West Side building, according to a court complaint outlining some of the trespass charges already lodged against him.
Two days later, he raped a woman in nearby Riverside Park, according to another court complaint. He had met the woman, a visitor from Russia, in the Time Warner Center — a popular shopping destination — and then invited her to a nighttime picnic in the park, complete with wine and flowers, Simmons said.
Another woman told police that Akassy approached her and chatted her up on an Upper West Side street in February 2009. After she gave him her email address to get rid of him, he emailed her asking for a date and became irate when she had her boyfriend write back telling him to leave her alone, according to yet another court complaint charging him with harassment.
He found her again on the street, yelled and cursed at her, and sent an e-mail calling her "a pathetic, retarded girl ... obnoxious and disgusting," the court document said.
Simmons said Akassy had been acquitted in that case, although electronic court records show it remains open.
In November 2009, Akassy was banned from the entire New York Sports Club chain — and then charged with trespass after continuing to turn up at some of the gyms, according to still another court complaint.