A 21-year-old woman was sitting on a bench in Hudson River Park watching the sunrise Saturday morning when she was attacked by a known sex offender and violently raped, police say.
The incident marked the second time a woman was raped in a city park within weeks. On Sept. 12, authorities say a known drifter from Virginia assaulted a 73-year-old birdwatcher in broad daylight Central Park.
Council Speaker Christine Quinn, outraged by the two attacks in 10 days, called on judges Sunday to impose tougher sentences on sex offenders and denounced Mayor Bloomberg’s midyear budget cuts for the NYPD.
“We simply cannot take away resources from our NYPD at this time with these types of incidents occurring,” Quinn said at a press conference inside Hudson River Park. “We also cannot cut back on resources for parks enforcement. They have already been cut to bone"
Quinn said she will be organizing self-defense classes in Hudson River Park and in Central Park to help New Yorkers protect themselves. Quinn also organized a walk in Hudson River Park Monday morning.
“We will do an early morning walk in this park to make it clear that our parks will be safe for women any time of the day or night," said Quinn.
Police say the victim in Hudson River Park was attacked by 25-year-old Jonathan Stewart, who allegedly hit her in the face, attempted to strangle her and dragged her to the bushes, where he sexually assaulted her.
The victim managed to escape and describe her attacker to police. Police later took Stewart into custody. Authorities say he is a high-risk sex offender who served seven years in prison and was released last year. He now faces a number of sex assault charges, including first-degree rape.
Information on an attorney wasn't immediately available.